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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

February 27, 2014 at 1:45 PM

College notes, and the best of the schedule ahead . . .

We’re getting down to cases in college hoops, with only a couple of days left in February, and you know what follows February.

Some assorted notes, followed by the best of the schedule the next seven days:

–    Even in a competitive Big 12, Kansas does it again, winning a 10th straight regular-season title. Availability of talent is never a big issue for the Jayhawks, but that’s still impressive, especially since Texas has had good rosters most of that time (including Kevin Durant for a year).

–    Unless Bob Huggins’ West Virginia team (15-13) can make a late-season run, he’ll have a two-year drought from the NCAA tournament – his first since 1990-91 when he was at Cincinnati and went to the NIT both years.

–   Nick Robinson, the ex-Stanford swingman, hasn’t had a good two-year run as head coach at Southern Utah. His club is 1-24 and 0-16 in the Big Sky.

–   Washington State has turned in some head-scratching numbers this year, and had another one at Oregon in Sunday’s 67-53 loss: The Cougars’ assist total of six didn’t include any from a guard. Forwards Junior Longrus and D.J. Shelton had three apiece.

–   Another statistical oddity: Stanford made 15 turnovers at Arizona State Wednesday night — three by all five starters.

–    Attendance problems, something familiar to the Pac-12, aren’t affecting the Big Ten. The league is on pace to record its highest attendance average since 1971-72, and just announced its tournament in Indianapolis is sold out.

–    You realize how transient success can be when you look at Indiana, which last year was a No. 1 seed and a popular pick to win it all. But it lost in the Sweet 16 to Syracuse, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo went among the early picks to the NBA and this year is 15-12 (5-9 in the Big Ten) and still has three ranked teams left to play.

–   The West Coast Conference leads all leagues in three-point shooting at .368.

–     Big loss by Nebraska – yes, Nebraska – at struggling Illinois the other night. The Huskers, 16-11, 8-7 and one of the better stories this year under Tim Miles, had won five straight Big Ten games and might still be a threat to reach the NCAA tournament. Their dubious distinction is that they’ve never won a game in the big dance.

–    UCLA and Oregon, which meet Thursday night, are 8-10 nationally in scoring at about 82 points a game, and if they finish over 80, they’d be the first Pac-12/10 schools to do it as a pair since Arizona and Washington did it in 1984, 30 years ago.

To the best TV games over the next seven days:

Thursday

Gonzaga at Pacific, ESPNU, 7 p.m. Huge game for Zags to keep from skidding out of NCAA bracket.

Oregon State at USC, Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. Programming like this isn’t going to help the new network.

Oregon at UCLA, ESPN2, 8 p.m. Ducks desperately need to add some cachet to their resume.

Friday

Washington State at Washington, Pac-12 Networks, 7:30 p.m. Bone’s undermanned teams have tended to trouble UW.

Saturday

Missouri State at Wichita State, ESPN, 11 a.m. Shockers defend, rebound, get good shots and guard the rim.

Colorado at Utah, Pac-12 Networks, 11 a.m. Buffs have a treacherous road finish, starting with this one.

LSU at Florida, CBS, 1 p.m. Tigers almost got Kentucky in Lexington last week.

Oregon at USC, Pac-12 Networks, 1 p.m. Ducks can’t afford to slip up here.

Syracuse at Virginia, ESPN, 1 p.m. It’s the Cavaliers – not ‘Cuse, Duke or North Carolina – who lead the ACC.

St. Louis at Virginia Commonwealth, ESPN2, 3 p.m. Good chance to see Billikens, viewed as an NCAA spoiler outfit.

California at Arizona State, Pac-12 Networks, 3 p.m. Flighty Bears need to solidify NCAA matters with a win.

Kansas at Oklahoma State, ESPN, 6 p.m. Cowboys trying to muster a late-season charge.

Idaho at Seattle, Root, 7 p.m. Vandal guard Stephen Madison has won WAC player-of-week honors a record five times.

Gonzaga at St. Mary’s, ESPN2, 7 p.m. Gaels mostly in spoiler role here until WCC tournament.

Sunday

Stanford at Arizona, ESPNU, 5 p.m. ‘Zona just beat Colorado and Cal by a combined 55 points.

Oregon State at UCLA, Fox Sports 1, 6 p.m. Bruins have turned in a nice debut year under Steve Alford.

Monday

Kansas State at Oklahoma State, ESPN, 6 p.m. KSU guard Marcus Foster one of the unsung freshman in the nation.

Tuesday

Creighton at Georgetown, Fox Sports 1, 4 p.m. Doug McDermott always worth watching.

Arizona State at Oregon, Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. A first? I can’t ever remember a Tuesday-night Pac-12/10/8 game.

Wednesday

Louisville at SMU, CBS Sports Network, 4 p.m. Pitino against Brown deserves a look.

Colorado at Stanford, ESPN2, 6 p.m. Dwight Powell needs to play better than he did at ASU (2 of 9 field goals).

Arizona at Oregon State, Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. In reality, not much at stake here, unless you see ‘Zona slipping out of No. 1 seed.

Utah at California, ESPNU, 8 p.m. Bears can’t sleep on Utes, though they struggle on road.

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