December 21st, 2006

Pac-10 Preview

Last night's interconference contests between ranked teams confirmed that the Pac-10 is going to be really, really tough this year. Arizona looked sharp against Memphis and Washington was even more impressive against LSU. And let me tell you, that freshman center the Huskies have, Spencer Hawes, may not be Greg Oden, but he's still one hell of a post player on offense, with a complete game rarely seen at his age. I've been heartened by my Cal Bears' bursts of uncharacteristic shooting prowess, especially during the Great Alaska Shootout, but I have to admit that their chances of making the NCAA tournament are not so great. Although the Pac-10 will probably get at least five teams in if its leading lights continue to play this well -- having UCLA at the top of the rankings for an extended period of time certainly isn't hurting -- the Bears will have to work hard to best Oregon, USC or even a dark horse like Washington State to get the fourth or fifth spot. The month-long road trip they commence this weekend, which brings them to Arizona next week, will be crucial. If they manage to break even, they should have a decent chance. I don't see them beating the Wildcats in Tucson, though, much as it pains me to admit that this will be the seventh consecutive year that I've had to watch them go down to the hometown favorites.