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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

January 2, 2008 at 3:33 PM

Ranking the Pac

Just finished a preview of the beginning of Pac-10 that will run in tomorrow’s paper.
Included in that package is a predicted order of finish that goes like this:
1, UCLA
2, WSU
3, Arizona
4, Stanford
5, USC
6, Cal
7, Oregon
8, Washington
9, Arizona State
10, Oregon State
Before you fire some slings and arrows my direction, I’ll say I had a much harder time putting UW eighth now than I did a few weeks ago when I did a similar order of finish for the paper. The Huskies seem to be finding some chemistry as a team and everyone learned how valuable Ryan Appleby really is when he was out. UW has done a real nice job of getting back in legit NCAA Tournament contention — 10 Pac-10 wins now, I think, would do it for the Huskies. That would give them a 19-13 record at the worst (one game worse than last season overall but two games better in conference play and against a tougher schedule).
The Huskies are ninth in the Pac-10 in RPI and 102 overall but I think 10 conference wins would raise the RPI high enough to make it a non-issue.
But I’m still not completely sold that UW has solved all of its defensive shortcoming — despite some signs of improvement in that area, fact is the Huskies are last in the conference in opponent field goal percentage
by a wide margin. UW’s foes are shooting 46.7 percent with Oregon ninth at 42.4. UW is also last in three-point defense at 39.3 (ASU is next at 35.3). UW has played a tougher schedule than most Pac-10 teams and that may have something to do with it. But Arizona, to use a comparison of a team not even really known for good defense, has played a tougher schedule and is allowing teams to shoot just 41.8 percent.
As I write tomorrow, we’ll know quickly where UW really stands as the Huskies open with WSU at home then at UCLA and USC.
As for the rest of the conference, I’m still a believer in UCLA winning it. They’ve had some injury issues and Michael Roll’s loss could be a bigger deal than it sounds like as he’s a good outside shooter. But I like their overall balance and Ben Howland always seems to push the right buttons.
I think Washington State is next, and that UCLA and WSU are a little ahead of the rest of the pack. But I still wonder how WSU will react to being the hunted every game out and if they have enough depth up front to overtake the Bruins.
USC and Cal seem like the teams that have answered the most questions the last two months. O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson have shown they are assimilating quite nicely for the Trojans and Cal’s backcourt situation has solidified a bit with the return of Jerome Randle.
I should probably include ASU in that category, as well, as the Sun Devils have gotten huge contributions from freshmen guards James Harden and Ty Abbott to emerge as legitimate sleepers.
Oregon State appears the only without any real post-season hopes, though C.J. Giles will at least make them interesting.
Some of you have asked if I plan to make predictions this year, ala football. Not sure yet — who’s that for having this all well-planned? — but I will at least highlight each game and make a comment.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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