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Pac-12 Confidential

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

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February 18, 2015 at 7:00 PM

College Hoops Hangout: How to stay out of Kentucky’s region

One of the simmering debates in college hoops these days — besides what to do about 19-13 halftime scores — is which schools deserve No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. The real quest, for seven or eight teams, can be more accurately phrased like this: Staying The Heck Away From Kentucky For As Long As…

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February 16, 2015 at 3:46 PM

Northwest 11: Huskies making a move, and it’s not up

Each week, we rank the 11 Division 1 men’s college basketball teams in the Northwest — the nine in the states of Oregon and Washington, plus Idaho and Boise State. Herewith, week No. 7 in 2015: 1. Gonzaga (26-1) . . . St. Mary’s (Saturday night on road) might be biggest hurdle until NCAA 2. Oregon (18-8)…

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February 11, 2015 at 7:00 PM

College Hoops Hangout: Musing on the passing of Dean Smith (and Tark)

Each week until March Madness, I’ll be taking a look at the broader scene outside the Pac-12 in college basketball,  assessing trends and faces in the game and previewing the next week’s best action on TV. Some weeks, the column may also run in the Times’ print edition.

When I think of Dean Smith, I gravitate to the concept of royalty, and I’m not sure why. I never quite felt that way about John Wooden or any other college basketball coach. But Smith was such a dominating figure in the game, and North Carolina was such a brand.

Two other things that might account for it: Smith coached at a prominent level longer than Wooden (whose madcap success was in a relatively short period of 1963-75), and of course, as has been properly noted in the wake of his death, Smith was a figure whose renown was also based heavily on his stance on social issues.

I first saw the Tar Heels up close in 1976 at the Far West Classic tournament in Portland (oh, those were the days). Smith had a ridiculously talented team — Tom LaGarde, Walter Davis, Phil Ford, Mike O’Koren — and it breezed to the title in the eight-team tournament. Fond personal recollection: Working in Eugene at the time, I took on a stringing job for a paper in North Carolina; might have been Greensboro — $200 for covering all the Heels’ games that week. That was pretty good cash 39 years ago, and frankly, it was stealing money, being able to follow a team that good. It went all the way to the 1977 NCAA final, where, as a favorite, it lost to Marquette and Al McGuire in McGuire’s teary swan song.

Later, in 1991 in Indianapolis, I was covering the Final Four, and that became famous not only for the memorable Duke upset of UNLV in the semifinals, but for something that happened in the first game — an official named Pete Pavia tossed the iconic Smith from Carolina’s upset loss to Kansas (coached, of course, by Roy Williams). It happened in the waning stages, probably with about a minute left, and as it developed, I was walking out an exit just after the Carolina players had trotted off. Here came Bill Guthridge, the loyal and longtime Smith assistant, screaming at Pavia, who was only too happy to repair to the officials’ quarters.

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February 8, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Northwest 11: Boise State making a big push

Each week, we rank the 11 Division 1 men’s college basketball teams in the Northwest — the nine in the states of Oregon and Washington, plus Idaho and Boise State. Herewith, week No. 6 in 2015: 1. Gonzaga (24-1) . . . Zags tested big-time in Bay Area, but emerged unscathed 2. Boise State (17-6) . ….

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February 6, 2015 at 10:54 AM

Is the Pac-12 becoming (gulp) a two-bid league?

It’s been apparent for a while now: The Pac-12 has very good basketball teams in Arizona and Utah, and there’s a distinct chasm between the gilded two and the other 10. Stanford had seemed a bridge to that gap until its last two games, but now it appears distinctly possible that the Pac-12 experiences the ignominy…

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February 4, 2015 at 7:00 PM

College Hoops Hangout: Can’t anybody here score?

Earlier this season, Colorado lost a 56-33 men’s basketball stinker at Wyoming. UCLA, the place with all the banners, was held to seven points in a first half against Kentucky. The Bruins were joined by USC the other day in the elite category of teams that have been held to exactly 39 points by Utah. All this feeds…

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February 4, 2015 at 1:31 PM

Signing day: Not unexpectedly, Trojans cutting a swath

USC just added a commitment from the  cornerback widely ranked No. 1 in the nation, Iman Marshall of Long Beach Poly. This adds to a signing-day haul that was buttressed earlier today by a couple of LA products, defensive lineman Rasheem Green and linebacker John Houston Jr., both of Serra High. It solidifies USC as the…

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February 4, 2015 at 12:29 PM

Signing day: 22 in fold at WSU at noon with some attrition

As of noon Wednesday, Washington State had announced the names of 22 football prospects for its 2015 class on national letter-of-intent day. The Cougars, who had some setbacks late in the process that dropped their national ranking from No. 23 last week to the 30s, got a bonus Wednesday when T.J. Fehoko, a defensive end prospect…

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February 4, 2015 at 8:55 AM

Signing day: Bruins having a big day

Scout.com just tweeted that it jumped UCLA to its No. 4 overall spot at this hour (8 a.m. Wednesday) after it got a commitment from Roquan Smith of Montezuma, Ga., which that service had rated the No. 1 inside linebacker in the nation. Smith chose the Bruins over Texas A&M, Georgia and Michigan. At his signing-day…

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