USA TODAY Sports
The first round games begin today. But before we begin we have to deal once more with the Jordan Adams outrage, from an unlikely source:
Arizona Wildcats' coach Sean Miller scanned the list of Pac-12 all-conference honors, finding one surprise.
"I cannot believe Jordan Adams did not make the all-freshman team," Miller said, referring to the 6-5 UCLA guard.
"I had him as a first-team all-conference player. To me, he's one of the very, very best players at his position in the country. On defense, he's incredible. The fact that he wasn't on the all-defensive team is also astonishing to me."
Howland thanked Miller and said:
"I was just really disappointed, miffed, stunned that Jordan Adams wasn't on the all-freshmen team," the UCLA coach said. "I couldn't believe it. I felt hurt, sad, stunned, miffed."
. . . The 6-foot-5 guard became the first freshman in program history to start his career with four 20-point games. He made 33 straight free throws, 10 shy of Darren Collison's school record. He finished the regular season as eighth in the Pac-12 in scoring and first in total steals.
Adams said he expected to make the all-freshmen team, but wasn't bothered by the snub.
"I'm not mad at it, but it will fuel me," he said.
Okay onto today's games.
1. 8 Stanford v. 9 Arizona State at Noon Pacific.
The first game and most important to UCLA is this one because UCLA will play the winner tomorrow. The official preview is here:
The Cardinal has won six straight in this series and narrowly escaped earlier in the regular season. Arizona State has been hot and cold throughout the year thanks in large part to the nature of their front-court play. That will be an issue facing the strong rebounding duo of Dwight Powell (who's also scored in double-digits every Pac-12 game this year) and Josh Huestis. Sun Devils center Jordan Bachynski wound up second on the conference single-season blocked shots list but he'll have to step up his game and show off early season form to control the paint on both ends of the floor if ASU wants to move on. Guard Jahii Carson earned co-Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors and has been a great spark plug for the team, making him a priority on the defensive end for Stanford. Both teams are dangerous squads looking to make a surprise run (the Sun Devils in particular as they hunt for an NCAA bid). This has the look of a close, toss-up game to open the tournament.
Not sure about what the six straight wins means but Stanford did win at ASU. I do know that UCLA would much rather play Stanford than ASU. UCLA needed OT to be beat ASU at home and ASU beat UCLA 18 points at ASU for their worst loss of the season. Of course, this is a UCLA team that could lose to anyone on any night but you still have to believe UCLA would rather play Stanford.
2. 5 Colorado vs. 12 Oregon State at 2:30 pm.
The next game should be a joke and probably will be excepting one thing: Oregon State beat Colorado in the last game of the season which should bode well for Oregon State. However, Colorado was playing without PAC 12 defensive player of the year Andre Robinson who was out from a viral illness. Doctors have now cleared him, so you have to believe that Colorado will get revenge and destroy the brother-in-law team.
3. 7 USC vs. No 10 Utah at 6 pm.
I wrote after UCLA blew out USC in their second matchup that USC's Interim Coach let his players act like thugs with dirty plays in a blowout second half. I wrote he should not come back. Well, it turns out the USC team is going to be without their starting and backup centers Dewayne Dedmon and James Blasczyk for allegedly doing more than acting like thugs. I will be rooting for Utah hard in this game because we also owe them for upsetting Oregon and delivering UCLA a PAC 12 title.
4. No 6. UW vs. No 11 WSU at 8:30 pm.
UW beat WSU twice during the year and WSU is playing without their second and third leading scorers. But WSU won half their PAC 12 games last week with a sweep of SUC and UCLA. The game before that WSU played UW tough at home. If you watch this game you are either from Washington or have too much time on your hands.