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Husky Men's Basketball

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

February 19, 2009 at 8:36 AM

Tonight’s picks, and a few links

We’re nearing the finish line with just three weeks to go and it’s one of the tighter conference races we’ve seen in recent years.
Consider that UCLA won the conference by three games last year, two the year before that, and that only twice since 2001 has there been only a game separating the champ and the second-place team.
That, however, seems a given this season with five games within two games of the lead.
Here’s a quick look at the conference standings:
Washington 10-3
Arizona State 9-4
UCLA 8-4
Cal 8-4
Arizona 8-5
USC 6-6
Oregon State 5-8
WSU 5-8
Stanford 4-8
Oregon 0-13.
Even USC could still be said to be in it, if admittedly remotely — if the Trojans won out and got to 12-6, who knows? But the top five teams are all still definitely in it, making just about every game left meaningful.
On to tonight’s picks:
STANFORD AT OREGON STATE (Cardinal by three-and-a-half): I’m trying to figure out why the Cardinal is favored in this one. OSU has a better conference record, beat Stanford in Palo Alto fairly decisively, and seems to be the hotter team at the moment, having won five of eight. The Cardinal, meanwhile, has to figure out how to dust itself off after blowing that 22-point lead at Cal last week. Corvallis doesn’t figure to be a real motivating influence for Stanford. Figure OSU takes another step toward legitimacy. OSU 65, STANFORD 57.
WASHINGTON STATE AT USC (Trojans by 7): The Cougars have really had a hold on the Trojans the last few years, winning five of the last seven meetings between the two, one of the losses for WSU a two-pointer in Pullman earlier this year in which the Cougs led throughout. But for some reason, I think the hex ends tonight in Galen as a talented Trojan team desperate for a few wins to keep its NCAA tourney hopes alive beats up on a Cougar team coming off a disheartening home loss to the Beavers. USC 72, WSU 59.
CAL AT OREGON (Bears by 5): The Ducks have to get one somewhere, don’t they? And this home weekend against the Bay Area schools seems like the perfect time. But I’m thinking it’s Saturday against Stanford when it happens and not tonight against a Cal team that still needs a few wins to sew up an NCAA bid, The Bears showed a lot of gumption with that rally against Stanford and should be able to hit some threes against an Oregon team allowing foes to hit 45.8 percent from beyond the arc in conference play, which ranks last in the conference by quite a bit (Stanford is next at 40.4). CAL 88, OREGON 77.
WASHINGTON AT UCLA (Bruins by 7-and-a-half): So maybe my reverse karma can work again for the Huskies in this one. Because when I look at this one objectively, I see a Bruin win. For starters, there’s history — one UW win in Pauley since 1987, and no three-game losing streaks for the Bruins in four years. There’s also the fact I don’t think there’s that much difference between these two teams — the first meeting was a lot closer than the 86-75 final score would indicate. UW isn’t likely to have a 43-15 edge in free throw attempts in this one, and Darren Collison is due at some point to play well against the Huskies — he went 5-14 and fouled in the first gaame, but is shooting 53.4 percent in Pac-10 games overall. The key for UW may be rebounding, especially if Alfred Aboya is at less than 100 percent. If the Huskies can have a big edge — maybe plus-10 or something in that realm — they can pull it off. Otherwise, I think it’s another lost night in Pauley. UCLA 77, UW 68.
SEASON RECORD: 45-17
AND NOW A FEW LINKS. ….
— The LA Times has a good look at some of the recent officiating controversies in the Pac-10 noting how Washington has had some big advantages in free throws in some of its home games this season.
— Here’s a breakdown of tonight’s game from The Sports Network.
Fox Sports has this on how UCLA is among the elite teams needing to bounce back this week.
— Here’s the AP breakdown of the game.
All for now.

Comments | Topics: top 25, UCLA

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