Player of the Week
Williams earned the NBADraft.net: Pac-10 “Player of the Week” Award for the third time this season by posting impressive numbers and leading Arizona to a home sweep of the Washington schools. His 26 point, 11 rebound performance against the Huskies this past Saturday bumped his stock back up and he is on top of NBADraft.net’s Mock Draft Board once again. Williams finished the week averaging 26.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. In addition, he shot 15 of 26 (57.7%) from the field, 2 of 4 (50.0%) from three and 20 of 21 (95.2%) from the free throw line. Arizona and Williams entered the toughest three game stretch of the season with their 87-86 victory over Washington. Next up for the Wildcats are road games against USC and UCLA. The Trojans and Bruins have depth and size in the front court and will be a difficult match-up for Williams and his Wildcats.
What’s “Hot” in the Pac-10?
When Arizona entered Pac-10 Conference play there were question marks surrounding how good this year’s team actually was? Sure, Derrick Williams clearly was a burgeoning star, but no other Wildcat player was averaging double digits in scoring. They had an 11-2 non-conference record, but had lost to both “Top 25” ranked RPI teams, Kansas and Brigham Young, and the BYU loss was by 22 on a semi-neutral court (Salt Lake City, UT). Essentially, Arizona had no bad losses and no good wins when they entered into Pac-10 play. Therefore, the stunning 75-76 loss on the first weekend of the conference schedule to a largely underachieving Oregon State team was cause for concern. However, since that loss the Wildcats have gone 11-1, solidified a NCAA Tournament bid and placed themselves atop the Pac-10 standings. This week’s road match-ups against the Southern California schools will be Arizona’s last true test before the Pac-10 Tournament.
What’s “Cold” in the Pac-10?
For the second consecutive year the Washington State Cougars have played their way out of an opportunity to win the Pac-10 Title and a birth in the NCAA Tournament. Washington State entered the 2009-10 Pac-10 season with a 10-2 non-conference record, played nearly .500 ball through the first half of the conference schedule only to finish 2-7 down the stretch. Apparently, Head Coach Ken Bone and the Cougars are applying the same blueprint to this season. After another 10-2 non-conference start the Cougars were slightly better this year in the first half of conference play, posting a 5-4 record. However, since Washington State’s impressive home victory over Washington, the Cougars are 2-4 with three games left on the schedule. The three remain games are against Washington, USC and UCLA, three teams that already knocked off the Cougars in their first meeting.
NCAA Tournament Watch List
1. Arizona 23-4 Overall / 12-2 Pac-10 - (RPI 14)
* The Wildcats played their way to the top of the Pac-10 standings and earned a birth into the NCAA Tournament. If Arizona can run the table and win the Pac-10 Tournament there’s no reason to think the Wildcats would be seeded lower than a three seed in the NCAA Tournament. Realistically, expect Arizona to be closer to a five or six seed.
2. UCLA 19-8 Overall / 10-4 Pac-10 - (RPI 42)
* It’s hard to believe the historically strong Bruins could fly under the radar, but they’ve done just that this season. UCLA posted impressive non-conference victories against BYU and St. John’s, and with the exception of a head scratching loss at home to Montana they’ve won the games they were expected to win. A strong finish to the season could land the Bruins with a six or seven seed come tournament time.
3. Washington 18-8 Overall / 10-5 Pac-10 - (RPI 35)
* If the Pac-10 or NCAA Tournaments were held at Hec Edmundson Pavilion it would be tough to pick against the Huskies. Beating the Huskies in Washington is a tough feat, but get them away from home and they have a tendency to stumble. Washington’s pre-season hype carried them through rough stretches of the season, but ultimately they’ve done enough to earn a six or seven seed.
4. USC 15-12 Overall / 7-7 Pac-10 - (RPI 86)
* The Trojans need impressive victories down the stretch and a strong run in the Pac-10 Tournament. Games against Arizona and Washington remain on the schedule and winning both would be a nice late season resume builder. USC has a marquee win (Texas), a few good wins (UCLA, Tennessee), but they also have some terrible losses (TCU, Bradley, Rider). USC is a long shot, but they’re still alive.
T5. Washington State 17-10 Overall / 7-8 Pac-10 - (RPI 81)
T5. California 14-13 Overall / 7-8 Pac-10 - (RPI 72)
Washington State and California both need to win the Pac-10 Conference Tournament.
* Washington State entered Pac-10 play with arguably the best non-conference resume of the Pac-10 schools. However, their performance in conference play has left the Cougars on the outside looking in. *California played a terribly tough non-conference schedule, but have grown and matured as the season progressed. The Bears are playing good basketball right now and will be a tough out in the Pac-10 Tournament.
Upcoming Games of Interest
02.26.2011 Arizona @ UCLA
02.27.2011 Washington State @ Washington
Results of Interest
02.17.2011 Washington State 70 Arizona 79
02.17.2011 UCLA 69 Stanford 65
02.19.2011 Washington 86 Arizona 87
02.19.2011 Oregon State 63 Oregon 82
02.20.2011 UCLA 72 California 76
* California Head Coach Mike Montgomery was reprimanded by the Pac-10 for comments made regarding the officiating following Cal’s losses to Washington and Washington State.