The Pacific 10 Conference has taken some critical hits – and with reason – this season.
There is a very real possibility
that as many as five teams,
But, with the Bruins (barring a major collapse) being the only sure-fire at-large possibility right now, there has to be just the right mix of regular-season and conference-tournament victories by the Wildcats, the Golden Bears, the Cardinal and the Huskies for that to happen.
Even with Stanford possessing the
opportunity to help its at-large candidacy (and that of his fellow Pac-10 teams)
with its game at Gonzaga Saturday night, part of that "the Pac-10 gets five
teams'' formula almost certainly would involve someone other than UCLA winning
the conference tournament final in
The Big 12 hasn't gotten picked on, nationally, quite as much as the Pac-10. But its hope for as many as five representatives in the NCAA Tournament is just about as much of a long shot as is the Pac-10's.
But if the Big 12 is going occupy
as many as five spots in the tournament field, two from among
Oklahoma State and Texas Tech went into the season looked up as probable NCAA tourney participants but, which each saddled with a hefty number of newcomers, haven't played consistently well at any point this season and seem destined for the new-look (and NCAA-run) NIT in March.
And they might run into some Pac-10
teams along the way, if
BOUNCING AROUND THE COUNTRY:
*He isn't like to be found on anyone's short list – or long list – of national Coach of the Year candidates.
With a depth- and size-starved roster, the Bearcats – who had dropped six of their previous eight games – held off Louisville Monday night (74-68) to even their Big East Conference record at 5-5 and stay firmly in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid with a 15-7 overall mark.
It apparently isn't going to get
him the full-time gig at
By the way, that "Skip Prosser leaves Wake Forest for Cincinnati, John Beilein leaves West Virginia for Wake Forest and Bob Huggins takes over at his alma mater (West Virginia)" scenario continues to make the circuit with much frequency.
But, as someone suggested the other
day, in light of
It's kind of hard to fault that logic.
*At some point I guess I should assemble a "10 most improved players in the country" list.
Once I do, look for
Gray, who averaged 1.7 points and 1.5 rebounds per game as a freshman, and 4.3 and 2.8 as a sophomore, has become one of the country's most dependable and forceful low-post presences this season.
He's grabbed double-figure totals in rebounds 14 times (he averages 11.0) and is scoring 13.7 points per game.
The coaching staff is obviously done a lot of individual skill work with him because he's got a variety of polished moves, both in the low post and facing the basket. And he is an underrated passer.
He's a big reason why I have been
so impressed by Jamie Dixon's
Panthers of late, especially in their narrow Big East Conference losses at
If senior guard Carl Krauser could ever learn to temper his shot selection – he tends to launch from deep too often after just one or two passes into a possession – they won't be dislodged from the list of eight to 10 squads with the ability to knock off the most talented team in the country.
That team I'm referring to is, if
you haven't been paying much attention of late,
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the