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Husky Men's Basketball

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March 8, 2008 at 12:46 AM

Saturday’s picks

Last day of the year for regular season Pac-10 games and though first and last are settled (as is second, for that matter) lots still to determine in between to make this an intriguing day.
STANFORD AT USC: Whole key here is whether the Cardinal can bounce back after being robbed at UCLA — in case you missed it, the conference’s coordinator of officials said the call that ended the game Thursday probably shouldn’t have been made. Could be even harder for Stanford since it has little to play for other than maintaining NCAA tourney seeding, as it is locked into second in the Pac-10. This is a matchup of the two best defensive teams in the conference when considering field goal percentage defense — Stanford is at 39.4 and USC 40.6 (third is ASU at 43.4, a pretty significant drop). It’s also a tough setting for the Cardinal to rebound. USC 65, STANFORD 59.
CAL AT UCLA: Neither team has a lot at stake in terms of the Pac-10 — UCLA has clinched the conference title and the Bears have clinched either eighth or ninth. But the Bruins are now playing for NCAA tourney seeding and maybe getting a No. 1. And Cal continues to play amidst rumblings about the future of Ben Braun, who could use a big win to keep the wolves at bay for a few days. Who also has a little something to play for is Ryan Anderson, who may be considering leaving early for the NBA. But while he’s had a great season, he’s also often come up short against the really good teams (he had just 12 against UCLA the first time) which has some wondering if he’s really ready for the pros. Overall, however, little reason to call for an upset here. UCLA 77, CAL 63.
ARIZONA STATE AT OREGON STATE: The Beavers go for the worst kind of immortality in this one as they can become the first Pac-10 team to go 0-18 in conference play with a loss. That would also make them, in most eyes, the worst team since the conference expanded to 10 teams in 1978. OSU interim coach Kevin Mouton said Friday he doesn’t think the Beavers deserve that tag. I would agree that this year’s Beavers might beat the 82-83 Arizona Wildcats, who went 1-17 in the year before Lute Olson arrived, a team I’ve always thought was the worst in Pac-10 history. But not so sure about any of the three WSU teams that also went 1-17. The 1990 Cougars lost five Pac-10 games by five points or less, the 2000 Cougs lost three overtime games and another by four points, and the 2002 Cougs did, at least, beat Bob Bender’s last UW team and lost by five to UCLA. These Beavers have come within 10 points just twice, and never closer than five, in Pac-10 play. Sure, the Pac-10 may be better this year than any of those years. But OSU’s scoring margin of minus-19.9 in Pac-10 play is astounding. Lose today and immortality is theirs. And it’s going to happen. ASU 75, OSU 51.
WASHINGTON AT WASHINGTON STATE: Sorry, just don’t see it for the Huskies. Not on Senior Day and against a group of players that just has their number right now. Maybe next year, when Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver and Robbie Cowgill are gone. I expect the Huskies to put up a good fight, a lot better than last time here. But I just think the Cougars will again make the plays when it counts to put this one away. WSU 65, UW 56.
ARIZONA AT OREGON: The biggest game of the day in terms of its meaning to the two teams involved. Arizona can likely clinch an NCAA tourney bid with a win but lands firmly on the bubble with a loss. Oregon would seem to have no shot at an at-large bid with a loss, but sets itself up for one if it can get the win today and then take a game or two in the Pac-10 tourney. It’s also the last home game for a noteable group of Oregon seniors, including Malik Hairston and Maarty Leunen. Playing on the road, however, hasn’t really been Arizona’s problem, injuries playing a bigger factor. With Nic Wise back, Arizona is at full strength, and with as much on the line as the Ducks, should have enough to get the win. ARIZONA 81, OREGON 73.

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