Tough day Saturday for the picks. Just brutal. But then I guess that was expected after we had somebody correctly guess the UW score Thursday.
Back to Saturday, 187dawg was the only person to correctly pick all five games. Because I filed within 90 minutes before tipoff in the first game, I considered every post filed after the Cal-UCLA game, which began at 1 p.m.
And in the Guess the UW Score game, the big winner was Mr. T, who guessed 75-57. Washington won 79-56. Please e-mail me privately to collect your winnings.
Hopefully, we’ll all do better today.
Washington at California, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Oregon State at Arizona State, 6:30 p.m.
Washington State at Stanford, 7 p.m.
Oregon at Arizona, 8:30 p.m. (FSN)
(Game times local to site)
My picks: ASU, Stan, and Ariz.
Pac-10 record: 32-22.
AND THE UW-CAL WINNER IS …
The Golden Bears, 85-70.
All signs point to a big game from Cal. For starters, the Bears play their first home game in three weeks. Blame a scheduling quirk for keeping them away for so long. Cal and Stanford are the only Pac-10 teams with four consecutive conference road games. Cal hasn’t played at Haas Pavilion since Jan. 23.
Normally it’s a fairly quiet arena that sits 11,877, but the place figures to be rocking tonight in what might feel like a NCAA tournament game.
Throw in the ESPN2 element, add the big-game anxiety of playing the defending Pac-10 champions Huskies and mix in the rematch factor and emotions should run high before the start.
It will be vital for Washington to withstand what might be a surge from the Bears in the opening minutes. Falling behind early would severely hamper UW’s chances of notching its first win away from Hec Ed.
Cal will draw plenty of motivation from its 84-69 defeat at Washington last month. In the game, Jerome Randle committed a season-high eight turnovers. He was also held to five points, 14 fewer than his average. Theo Roberton finished with seven points, seven fewer than his average.
Statistically, the Bears’ top two scorers (Randle and Patrick Christopher) have performed better on the road than at home, however, the Huskies average 18 fewer points on the road than at home.
Cal and UW are the highest scoring Pac-10 teams since conference play started, but if the Huskies get lured into a perimeter shooting contest they’ll lose. Washington would help its chances if it tries to exploit Cal’s small front line with forwards Tyreese Breshers and Matthew Bryan-Amaning.
The Huskies will likely need big scoring games from their stars Quincy Pondexter.and Isaiah Thomas. It wouldn’t hurt if one or two role players were able to make significant contributions.
The wild card could be Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez, who was injured in the first game and did not play. Gutierrez is one of the Pac-10’s toughest perimeter defenders who is capable of slowing down Thomas.
Finally, the Bears have a shorter bench than UW. If the Huskies can stay close, they might be able to wear down the thin Cal roster in the latter stages of the game.
Still it would be a surprise if Washington snaps a six-game road losing streak against the conference leader.