College Hoops Thursday: Your Commentary

February 17th, 2011
Two of the best players in the Pac-10 will be on display Thursday night, but the paths their respective teams have taken this season are a bit different. Arizona (21-4, 10-2) forward Derrick Williams has become a serious threat to run away with the Pac-10 Player of the Year award, an amazing statement to make considering the play of an Isaiah Thomas at Washington. Washington State's (17-8, 7-6) Klay Thompson has been outstanding as well, but with many postseason honors team success is weighed in the voting process which could have him behind Williams and Thomas in the pecking order.

But most importantly for Ken Bone's team is the fact that they need wins, as the combination of their profile (RPI 74, SOS 99; along with that of the conference (Pac-10 is ranked 7th in conference RPI and 6th in SOS) could limit the league to three bids. The first meeting between these two was an entertaining affair, won on the Palouse by Arizona just two days after they fell at Washington.

Williams posted a double-double in that contest with 17 points and 19 rebounds but it was the Wildcats' ability to knock down perimeter shots that ultimately won the game. Arizona made 11 of 18 shots from beyond the arc while Wazzu made just 4 of 20, and that kind of point difference (21) can make up for shooting 25.6% from two. But if Washington State is expecting a similar offensive performance from Sean Miller's team they'll be in for a rude awakening as Lamont "MoMo" Jones and Kevin Parrom have both played exceptional basketball of late. Add in junior Kyle Fogg scoring 26 in their win over Arizona State on Sunday night and Arizona may be clicking at just the eight time.

The Wildcats also have the athletes on the wings to match up defensively with a player of Thompson's caliber. Parrom, Solomon Hill and Jamelle Horne all have the athletic ability and size to make things tough for the Californian, who's put up more than a few outstanding performances throughout his career. Thompson scored just nine points in the first meeting, making four of 16 shots from the field. DeAngelo Casto (17 in that game) and Reggie Moore will need to step up offensively, and the Cougars also need Faisal Aden to be productive off the bench, and this contest features two of the top sixth men in the Pac-10 on Aden and Parrom.

Where could Washington State be in trouble? Rebounding. Arizona is a plus-5.2 in rebounding margin while the Cougars are a minus-1.4, and the Wildcats out-rebounding Washington State 40-30 in the first meeting. Allowing 15 offensive rebounds will get you beat on most nights, much less in a game against the top team in the conference. Since that game Washington State has lost to Oregon and Stanford, meaning that they need a win of some regard to erase the stigma those defeats attach to their resume. But they need to be ready to fight for 40 minutes, or else they'll be on their way to Tempe with a loss.

There's also a big game in the Atlantic 10 as Richmond visits Temple with both having two losses in league play. First-place Xavier has a manageable league slate from this point forward, which could mean that the loser at the Liacouras Center may be better served to focus on clinching a first-round by in the Atlantic 10 Tournament and trying to win three straight in Atlantic City. Lavoy Allen and Juan Fernandez have struggled with consistency for Fran Dunphy's Owls, and in Richmond's Justin Harper the best argument (albeit likely a futile one) against Xavier's Tu Holloway when discussing Player of the Year will be in town not to mention senior point guard Kevin Anderson. LIU looks to move one step closer to an NEC title with a win at Wagner, and Gonzaga looks for some revenge as they welcome a Santa Clara team that beat them a few weeks ago.

Top 25
8:30 PM Washington State at (13) Arizona (FSN)
7:00 PM Richmond at (25) Temple (CBS College)

NCAA Division I Games
7:00 PM Southern Utah at IUPUI
7:00 PM St. Francis (NY) at Mount St. Mary's
7:00 PM Clemson at North Carolina State (ESPN2)
7:00 PM Robert Morris at Fairleigh Dickinson
7:00 PM Minnesota at Penn State (ESPN)
7:00 PM North Carolina Central at Coastal Carolina
7:00 PM Western Carolina at Appalachian State
7:00 PM Sacred Heart at Central Connecticut State
7:00 PM North Dakota State at Oakland
7:00 PM Trinity Baptist at Savannah State
7:00 PM Charleston at Citadel
7:00 PM Long Island at Wagner
7:00 PM Quinnipiac at Bryant
7:00 PM South Dakota State at IPFW
7:15 PM Campbell at Stetson
7:45 PM St. Francis (PA) at Monmouth
8:00 PM USC Upstate at Lipscomb
8:00 PM Western Kentucky at Arkansas-Little Rock
8:00 PM East Tennessee State at Belmont
8:00 PM Olivet Nazarene at Chicago State
8:00 PM Concordia College at New Orleans
8:00 PM UMKC at Western Illinois
8:05 PM Arkansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette
8:30 PM Washington at Arizona State
8:30 PM South Alabama at North Texas
8:45 PM NJIT at Houston Baptist
8:45 PM Middle Tennessee at Troy
9:00 PM Iowa at Northwestern (BTN)
9:00 PM Alabama at LSU (ESPN)
9:00 PM Louisiana-Monroe at Denver
9:00 PM Santa Clara at Gonzaga
9:00 PM San Francisco at Portland (ESPNU)
9:00 PM DePaul at Providence (ESPN2)
10:00 PM South Dakota at Utah Valley
10:30 PM UCLA at Stanford (FSN)
10:30 PM USC at California