How many bids will come out of the Pac-10 this year? There's a distinct possibility of the conference receiving just one bid to the NCAA Tournament given the unimpressive resumes of its primary contenders. And that essentially means the entire league with ten teams separated by just two games in the standings. However, the winner of Thursday's matchup between California and Washington in Berkeley will go a long way towards deciding who's got the inside track for the automatic bid. Lorenzo Romar's Huskies picked up an important sweep of the Arizona schools last week, but as has been the case with all of their key victories those wins came in Seattle.
But picking up the win at Haas Pavilion will be a tough task in the least due to the Golden Bears' triumvirate of Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher and Theo Robertson. If the Huskies can't contain Cal's primary scoring options, especially the lightning-quick Randle, they're going to have a hard time beating the Golden Bears. Look for Venoy Overton to draw that defensive assignment. Neither team has a true post presence although the Huskies do have bodies they can rotate in to attack the glass. Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Tyreese Breshers are two guys that Coach Romar can call upon inside. The Huskies won the first meeting 84-69 back on January 16th, forcing 21 Cal turnovers and outrebounding them by seven (38-31). A similar performance would give Washington the season sweep and a definite edge in the Pac-10 title race.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss get together in Starkville with the winner remaining a game behind Arkansas in the loss column atop the SEC West. Dee Bost scored a career-high 25 points in the Bulldogs' 80-75 win, a game that saw MSU attempt twenty more foul shots than the Rebels despite being on the road. In the rematch guards Chris Warren and Terrico White will need to attack the rim early and often for Andy Kennedy's squad if they're to return the favor, and the winner takes one step towards a possible NCAA Tournament berth.
Also, Saint Mary's visits Gonzaga with the winner taking control of the WCC race. A win would likely sew up an at-large berth for Randy Bennett's Gaels, who will likely be in regardless. But will they have an answer for Elias Harris? He and SMC's Matthew Dellavedova are two of the better freshmen on the West Coast, if not two of the better ones in the nation.
7p ESPN2 Louisville at St. John's
7p ESPN Michigan at Minnesota
7p ESPNU Notre Dame at Seton Hall
7p CBS-College Massachusetts at Duquesne
9p ESPN2 Washington at California
9p ESPN Mississippi at Mississippi
10:30p FSN Oregon at Arizona
11p ESPN2 Saint Mary's at Gonzaga
7p Valparaiso at Cleveland St
7p UL Lafayette at Florida Atlantic
7:05p Green Bay at Detroit
7:30p Mount St. Mary's at Monmouth
7:30p St. Francis (NY) at Quinnipiac
8p Denver at Middle Tennessee
8p Arkansas St at Western Kentucky
8:30p Oregon St at Arizona St
10p New Mexico St at Fresno St
Washington over California: To say the least the Huskies are a different team in Seattle as opposed to when they hit the road. The same can essentially be said for the entire Pac-10, with the winner of the regular season crown likely being the team that can string together a few road wins down the stretch. Look for Quincy Pondexter to prove to be the one man the Golden Bears can't match up with; UDub steals one in Berkeley.