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Husky Men's Basketball

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

March 5, 2008 at 8:35 PM

Thursday’s picks

One weekend left of regular season action, and it’s one that figures to go a long way toward determining whether the Pac-10 gets four, five or six teams into the NCAA Tournament.
I don’t really buy the notion that only four will get in, and it’s telling that ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has six Pac-10 teams in his most recent Bracketology and has them all in comfortably — the lowest seed is Arizona State at No. 10.
Seems now to be a foregone conclusion that some precedents will be set in the Pac-10, which has never had a team with a conference record worse than 10-8 get an at-large bid. Arizona can no longer do better than 9-9 and ASU needs a road sweep to get to 10-8. Yet if people like Lunardi can be believed, each may be getting in at 9-9, and Arizona may even have a shot at 8-10. My how times have changed in just five years — remember that only three Pac-10 teams got invites as recently as 2004.
(Speaking of Bracketology, I love some of Lunardi’s second-round matchups. Stanford-Gonzaga, a rematch of the memorable 1999 second-rounder at Key Arena? WSU-Wisconsin, with the storyline of Tony Bennett coaching against the state where his dad is a folk hero? USC-Duke?)
But I digress. On with the picks.
STANFORD AT UCLA: The game of the year in the Pac-10. UCLA clinches the outright title with a win, Stanford can stay alive with a win and put the Bruins in the position of rooting for rival USC Saturday. As Bud Withers of our staff noted Wednesday, one of the oddities of the year was both Lopez twins fouling out in the first meeting while Kevin Love wasn’t whistled once, a big reason UCLA won 76-67. The teams are pretty even in a lot of statistical categories. Two where they aren’t —- shooting (UCLA is at 48.1, Stanford 42.8) and turnover margin (UCLA is plus-1.31, Stanford minus-1.38). With UCLA at home, expect those two trends to continue and key a Bruins win. UCLA 67, STANFORD 61.
ARIZONA STATE AT OREGON: With a game at OSU in the offing Saturday. ASU can all-but-clinch a tourney spot with a victory over the Ducks. Oregon needs a win to keep its faint hopes alive, but the trends aren’t great for the Ducks, who are 4-8 since Jan. 13. Whole key to this one will be outside shooting. ASU’s zone defense figures to lure the Ducks into shooting a lot of threes (Oregon leads the Pac-10 in three attempts with 38 more than any other team in conference play). If Oregon gets hot early, look out. Otherwise, the collars could get awfully tight. I’ll side with thinking that the home court and some emotion from Oregon’s seniors will sway things the way of the Ducks. OREGON 72, ASU 63.
ARIZONA AT OREGON STATE: I really didn’t think OSU could actually go 0-18. But after watching the Oregon game, when twice late it was the Ducks who dove on the ground for loose balls while the Beavers stayed upright and reached, I decided there’s no hope left for the Beavers. No analysis needed of this one. As much of a soap opera as Arizona may be, hard to believe they the Wildcats could lose this one. ARIZONA 82, OSU 65.
CAL AT USC: Serious rumblings that Cal’s Ben Braun could be in some trouble, especially if the Bears lose out the season and finish .500, which would be the fourth time in the last five years without a winning record. One of Cal’s two home wins came in the first meeting against USC when O.J. Mayo scored 34 — USC has lost three of the four games where Mayo has score more than 30. Trojans generally assumed to be in the tournament, but one more win will clinch at least a 10-8 conference record and assure a bid. They’ll get it gainst the Bears USC 77, CAL 70.
SEASON RECORD: 62-19.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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