College Hoops: Best Pac 12 Teams
Courtesy of Jim Feist
There's the Big 5 in Pac 12 in basketball with a string of teams battling for the top spot. Here's a look at the strengths and weaknesses of some of college basketball's best teams in the Pacific 12.
Arizona: The Wildcats are the Pac 12 and national powerhouse, tops in the Pac 12 in rebounds, tops in points allowed (57 pg) and tops in FG shooting D (38%). Coach Sean Miller has a loaded young roster with 6-9 freshman Aaron Gordon (12 ppg, 8 rpg), 7-foot soph Kaleb Tarczewski (9.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and junior G Nick Johnson (16 ppg).
A key cog, though, is injured forward Brandon Ashley, a versatile all-around player who is out. In their second game without him the Wildcats went 4 for 16 from 3-point range, missed 16 free throws and barely beat Oregon, 67-65. Arizona's long weakness: They are second to last in free throws (67%) in the Pac 12. If you like defense and totals, not Arizona is on a 39-16-1 run under the total.
UCLA: The Bruins are back to running-and-gunning, a top 20 team in the nation in scoring and shooting. UCLA has a terrific one-two punch of 6-5 sophomore Jordan Adams (16.8 ppg) and 6-9 sophomore Kyle Anderson (15 ppg, 8.7 rpg). UCLA is third in the Pac 12 in free throw shooting and even plays defense, fifth in allowing .432% shooting by opponents.
They haven't had a signature win yet, going 0-2 against the only Top 20 opponents they've faces, losing to Duke (80-63) and then No. 1 Arizona (79-75) at home. They have no trouble with patsies, though: the Bruins are 20-8 ATS in their last 28 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
Arizona State: While Arizona has been getting all the coverage, state rival Arizona State has quietly been very good, especially at home. Arizona State is second in Pac-12 in 3-point field goals behind 5-10 sophomore Jahi Carson (19 ppg) and 6-4 senior Jermaine Marshall (15.3 ppg), plus 7-2 senior Jordan Bachysnki (11 ppg, 9 rpg) up front.
The teamwork was on display in a 74-72 win over Oregon, hanging on after leading 43-23 at half. Bachynski had 26 points and blocked Joseph Young's reverse layup at the buzzer. The Sun Devils are 14-6-1 ATS following a spread loss. And their defense is dominant at home: The under is 38-17-3 in the Sun Devils last 58 home games.
Colorado: The Buffaloes have been hit hard by an injury to Scott Dinwiddie (14.7 ppg), their leading scorer and playmaker, but they refuse to go down. They beat Utah in OT, then swept both Washington schools. Defense is what's keeping them alive, third in the Pac 12 in field goal shooing allowing 42% and fourth in points allowed.
6-10 sophomore Josh Scott (14 ppg, 8.8 rpg) has been a frontcourt force along with 6-9 freshman Wesley Gordon (6.6 rpg), both young but big! The Buffaloes are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 road games, plus 19-7 under the total on the road. The schedule maker was not kind, either, with Colorado ending thre regular season with three straight road games.
California: The Golden Bears can play any style, second in the Pac 12 in scoring, yet they were the first team to beat Arizona this season, 60-58, with a slow, defensive approach. 6-10 senior Rich Solomon (11.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg) and 6-9 junior Dave Kravish (11.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg) man the frontcourt while senior guard Justin Cobbs (16.3 ppg) leads in scoring and is a prolific playmaker, averaging 6 assists.
Cobbs hit a step-back jumper with 0.9 seconds left as California stunned No. 1 Arizona 60-58 as fans had to be pushed back late from storming the court. Think Arizona will remember? Cal has a rematch this week at Arizona. Would you believe Cal is 27-9-1 ATS when they play on Saturday?
Stanford: Close but not quite! Stanford has had a fine season, but it's a team that's in the middle of the pack in most Pac 12 stats and has been oh-so-close to big wins all season long. They got blown out by Pitt, lost to Michigan by 3, lost to No. 1 Arizona by 3 and couldn't hang with UCLA. They got over the hump once in a 53-51 win over UConn on the road, coming back from 38-28 down at the half.
Junior guard Chase Randle (18.7 ppg) has had a great season, while 6-10 senior Dwight Powell (15 ppg, 7.8 rpg) and 6-7 senior Josh Huestis (11 ppg, 8 rpg) man the frontcourt for this experienced group. The under is 19-9-1 when the Cardinals faces a team with a winning percentage below .400.
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