Nick, Nickolaus, Nickleback, Nikolas, Nickers, Nickington, Nickery, Nikita, Nikelodeon, Nickerbocker, Niko, Nikon…listen buddy, the reason your glass is only half full right now is because you just made it that way after it was previously filled to the brim with an extremely potent adult beverage. Whatever it was, please pass the rest this way because my glass is half empty with rotten egg nog that accidentally got left out on Christmas.
Plus, I’m sitting here contemplating the fact that this glass is twice as big as it needs to be so I would welcome the distraction. You might be right in that the NCAA selection committee chooses four Pac 12 teams, but there are only three scenarios in which that is plausible:
1. Bribery – The most likely scenario. We know that some of these Cali schools have boosters with deep pockets and that they aren’t strangers to a good ol’ thousand-dollar handshake.
2. Attrition – A somewhat likely scenario. The NCAA couldn’t have picked a worse year to expand the field to 68 because there are going to be some really bad teams that will barely deserve a bid to the NIT much less March Madness. If anything, this is going to be the first year in a long time that Dickey V. doesn’t cry on national television due to a total overreaction on Selection Sunday. The Pac 12 might get an extra bid or two simply because the pool from which they have to choose from is so shallow.
3. Apocalyptic Natural Disasters – Probably the least likely scenario (unless you’re a fan of the Mayan calendar) and this is really just a form of attrition anyways, but if the entire Eastern seaboard gets wiped out in tidal wave, the Pac 12 will be sitting pretty. Unless this happens – *crossing fingers* Love you aunts, uncles, and grandma but just think about how many other problems this would solve! – there might be a better chance that all 16 Big East teams make the NCAA tourney than there is of even one-third of the Pac 12 teams making it.
Regarding your thoughts about UCLA, my first instinct was to throw this glass of nast on the floor and start a bar fight! I guess it just starts with our impression of Ben Howland, because for my money, he might be the worst coach in the entire conference. He would be without a doubt if Herb Sendek wasn’t still running the show at University of Phoenix at Tempe, but I can’t think of a program that has done less with what’s at their disposal than UCLA over the past few years.
The most storied NCAA basketball program that lives in the heart of west coast basketball recruiting, competing against a conference begging to be dominated like they’re paying for it, coming off of back-to-back Final Four appearances, and they can’t even muster a conference championship or a Sweet 16 run? “Underwhelming” is the first word that comes to mind, but that really doesn’t even do it justice.
I know it sounded good to write “5 game winning streak” but you didn’t think I was going to let you get away with that, did you? That streak includes wins over teams which have mascots called the Quakers, the Anteaters, and the Spiders. The other two wins are over Big Sky cellar dweller Eastern Washington and UC Davis, whose lone win this year came against the Fightin’ Banana Slugs of DIII UC Santa Cruz. The bottom line here is that the next time UCLA wins a game against a noteworthy opponent this season will be their first. If you’re buying that stock, I’ve got some ocean-front property in western Arizona that you might be interested in so let me know!
Hyperbole aside, I’ll admit that UCLA didn’t look that bad in their one-point Pac 12 opening loss at Stanford last night. Josh Smith is like a seven year old trapped in a behemoth’s body. He has almost no concept about how to use his size as an advantage on the court and his childish facial expressions bring out my anger management issues in full effect. Seriously, he just has one of those faces that you want to punch/roundhouse kick as hard as you possibly can, right? Gooosfraba…okay, I feel better. The Wear twins just aren’t very good and if they’re truly 6-10, they certainly don’t play like it. Lazeric Jones and Tyler Lamb are playmakers and are good enough to help the Bruins float around the middle of conference standings all season.
Here is how I would categorize the current state of the Pac 12 men’s basketball programs:
Glass half full: Arizona, Stanford, Cal – if the Pac 12 gets a third bid, it will be Cal; Mike Montgomery is one of the best coaches in the league.
Glass exists with some indeterminable amount of liquid in it: Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Colorado, Washington
Glass half empty: UCLA, Utah, USC
Glass shattered, get the broom: Cal State Tempe – I legitimately think I could find a group of rec league all-stars in Tucson that would beat this team 7 times out of 10. They’re that bad…and Sendek just inked a two-year extension!
Alas we do agree on one major thing, Nick, and that’s the fact that the Pac 12 is perhaps as difficult to figure out as women. Nah, maybe not that difficult, but it’s true that nothing would really surprise me in conference play save perhaps AS”U” winning the Pac 12 championship.
Here are my predictions for the final Pac 12 standings:
7. Oregon State
8. Washington State
12. Arizona State Community College