Duke Vitale is now trying to jump on the Ben Ball wagon in the worst way. He has a write up in USA Today about how Coach Howland has laid a solid foundation for banner number 12 (really Dick?). Here is the article. Skip the first few paras. in which he recycles the typical debunked garbage of shadows of the Wooden era, and how we ran Steve-16 out of town despite reaching 5 Sweet-16s, and just read this part:
The Bruins are led by solid gold All-America candidate Afflalo on the perimeter.
UCLA will be a major player come March. The Bruins will face challenge after challenge like their recent battles against Oregon and USC because the Pacific-10 and the Southeastern Conferences are arguably the best in the nation. There have been major surprises at Oregon, Washington State and USC to go along with the expected performances of UCLA, Arizona and Washington.
This Saturday will be a classic when one of the premier offensive machines -- Lute Olson's Arizona team -- invades Pauley to face Howland's defensive-minded Bruins.
Conference play separates contenders from pretenders. UCLA will be a contender.
As expected Pac-10 is getting mad props from everywhere. Yoni over Yoco Hoops is wondering whether Pac-10 may send 8 teams to the Big-Dance.
I am not so sure. This is how I see the Pac-10 tourney bids at this snap shot of time:
Locks: UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, Washington State
Can get in: Stanford, Southern Cal
Bubble: Washington, Cal
Keep in mind those are my projections at this snap shot of time. This picture is very fluid. Up until now Timmeh's guys have been cruising by playing teams who were either looking forward to playing UCLA or were exhausted from going against Ben Ball. Now they are not going to sneak up on other Pac-10 teams as much. BTW here is also the latest brackets from Lunardi at WWL, which also has 6 teams from the Pac with Washington in and Stanford out (Bruins at no. 1 out West).
Stanford has been really coming on. As well as Cal, which despite losing key players to injury is making it pretty interesting. The road trip to Bay Area has always been a difficult challenge for Bruin basketball, and this year it is shaping up to be another brutal one.
Everyone has discovered Washington State by now. As for their in-state rival if Romar makes some adjustments as in not try to same style of ball the Huskies played last year, and just feed the post to Hawes and Brockman, the Huskies might be able to pull themselves out of the deep hole they are in right now.
So lot can change next few weeks. I think once it all shakes out Pac-10 will send 6 to the big dance. So two teams from the second and third group are going find themselves in the NIT spot (hey at least it will give Timmeh a chance to claim he is closing the gap!). One thing is for certain. No teams can take the night off (even against teams like Arizona State and Oregon State). Because if a team takes it easy, it will find themselves in the same situation the Huskies find themselves in now in a hurry.
Thankfully we have a coaching staff who will make sure our guys are only focused on the next opponent, not the next marquee game. Actually every game is a marquee game for Ben Ball from hereon out.