Posted on February 7, 2022
The Pac-12 standings were thrown a curveball last week, with UCLA dropping both of its games in the desert and Oregon securing its first-ever road sweep of the Mountain schools.
With a two-way tie for second-place and a two-way tie for fourth-place, the rescheduled games at the beginning of this week could continue to shake up the race.
Arizona made easy work of Arizona State on Monday. Pacific gave USC a scare, and UCLA got back on track with a win over Stanford on Tuesday.
I preview today’s Cal at Oregon State matchup below, and my picks along with Stephen Vilardo’s appear at the bottom.
California at Oregon State
Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, OR
Wednesday, February 9
8:00pm PT, ESPNU
The Bears have stumbled through the toughest part of their schedule during the 10-game losing streak, yet finally face an opponent they are expected to beat.
Comparatively, Oregon State is in the midst of an historically poor season, dropping seven in a row while getting blown out in its last three games.
Nothing has gone right for Wayne Tinkle’s team after their run to the Elite Eight, and it’s fair to question whether he has lost the confidence of his roster.
Jarod Lucas is the lone bright spot, but Warith Alatishe has regressed in his second year as a Beaver.
The absence of Gianni Hunt since early December has played a role in Oregon State’s downturn, but the starkness of the drop from last year is dramatic.
To beat California, OSU must focus on slowing down Jordan Shepherd and can’t allow Grant Anticevich open looks from deep.
Pacific at No. 21 USC
Galen Center, Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, February 8
7:00pm PT, Pac-12 Network
Outmatched across the board, the Tigers don’t appear to have a chance against Andy Enfield’s team.
But Pacific utilizes a fairly deep rotation and has balanced scoring. Three of its players average 10 points per game, with a fourth coming in at nine per night.
Yet, without the size to match up with USC, this game figures to turn into a blowout. The Tigers’ tallest player, Sam Freeman, is listed at 6-foot-10 and averages just 12.6 minutes per game.
USC figures to exploit its advantages down low from the opening possession, feeding its forwards for points in the paint.
At the end of the day, leaving the game fully healthy should be the primary goal for the Trojans.
No. 12 UCLA at Stanford
Galen Center, Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, February 8
8:00pm PT, ESPN2
The Bruins dominated the Cardinal at Pauley Pavilion, holding Jerod Haase’s team to its lowest scoring output of the season.
And coming off a two-game losing streak in the desert, Mick Cronin figures to have his players wired for the repeat.
Forcing the Cardinal to commit turnovers promises to be a high-priority in UCLA’s defensive game plan, while offensive rebounding and sharing the ball could be the focal points of its offensive strategy.
Johnny Juzang’s efficiency was poor in the trip to the Arizona schools, where the junior went 14-of-37 from the field.
The Bruins will need his shots to fall at a higher clip at Maples Pavilion, or disaster could strike for the third-straight game.
Facing an angry UCLA team gunning to right the ship, Stanford might only be able to defend its home court with three-point shooting and defensive rebounding.
No. 4 Arizona at Arizona State
Desert Financial Arena, Tempe, AZ
Monday, February 7
6:00pm PT, FS1
Bobby Hurley’s team held the Wildcats to their second-lowest point total of the year just over a week ago, when Arizona missed 20 threes and shot 32.2 percent from the field.
But UA’s offense is back on track. Scoring in the 70s against UCLA and USC, the Cats shot 47.6 percent over the two-game stretch.
Shot selection figures to play an important role in UA’s game plan, and it’s unlikely Tommy Lloyd’s team settles for outside shots in the rematch.
Starting at 7:00 pm local time, the crowd at Desert Financial Arena promises to be rowdy and hostile. The Wildcats are 5-5 in the building since 2011 and 3-2 when ranked in the AP Top 10.
With a crowd that figures to change the game, the matchup to watch is the battle between the two frontcourts.
Hurley’s bigs went toe-to-toe with Christian Koloko and Oumar Ballo in Tucson, playing physical enough to force Arizona into outside shots.
If Arizona State is able to once again hang with the UA centers, the Sun Devils could pull off the upset.
But the difference in this rematch is a healthy Azuolas Tubelis. The Lithuanian forward is a mismatch for the ASU frontcourt and might be the difference-maker for Arizona.
February 7-9 Game Picks
—More from Dane Miller—
- Dane Miller’s Post-Spring Pac-12 Football Power Rankings
- Miller: Pac-12 Hoops Attendance a Measure of Success
- Dane Miller’s WSU-Texas A&M Semifinal NIT Preview
- Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Sweet 16 NCAA Preview
- Dane Miller’s Washington State Quarterfinal NIT Preview
- Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Second-Round NCAA Previews
- Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Second-Round NIT Previews
- Dane Miller’s First-Round Pac-12 NCAA Previews
- Dane Miller’s First-Round Pac-12 NIT Previews
- Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Tournament Championship Preview
- Dane Miller’s Semifinal Men’s Hoops Tourney Previews
- Dane Miller’s Round 2 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Tourney Preview
- Dane Miller’s Round 1 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Tourney Preview
- Dane Miller’s March 5 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews
- Dane Miller’s March 3 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Preview
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- Dane Miller’s Feb 26 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews
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- Dane Miller’s Feb 17 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews
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Dane Miller’s Post-Spring Pac-12 Football Power RankingsThe offseason has produced coaching changes, roster movement, and controversy - May 16, 2022
Miller: Pac-12 Hoops Attendance a Measure of SuccessLarger home crowds generally correlate to more wins and a recruiting advantage - April 29, 2022
Dane Miller’s WSU-Texas A&M Semifinal NIT PreviewThe Cougs' march to Madison Square Garden has set the program up for a strong 2022-23 - March 29, 2022