Dane Miller’s Jan 29-30 Men’s Hoops Previews

Posted on January 29, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

Pac-12The Pac-12 men’s basketball season marches on in late January as the cream begins to rise to the top.

Stanford’s victory over No. 15 USC on Thursday sets up the Game of the Day against No. 7 UCLA today, while No. 3 Arizona takes on Arizona State in a mid-day matinee on CBS.

But in probably the most overlooked matchup of the weekend, Washington hosts Utah this afternoon in a pivotal game for the Huskies’ re-emergence on the Conference’s stage.

I preview all six matchups this weekend, and my picks along with Stephen Vilardo’s appear at the bottom.

Arizona football Pac-12Arizona State at No. 3 Arizona

McKale Center, Tucson, AZ
Saturday, January 29
11:30 am PT, CBS

The Wildcats are 9-1 against the Sun Devils at McKale Center during the Pac-12 era, winning those matchups by an average of 20 points.

And worryingly for Arizona State, none of those teams faced the caliber of offense that Tommy Lloyd puts on the floor.

Averaging 87.1 points per game, the Cats rank third in the nation in scoring offense and face an ASU squad that ranks 173rd in points allowed per game.

Arizona’s Kerr Kriisa | Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

To make matters worse, UA is coming off an embarrassing loss to the Bruins and figure to take out their anger on Bobby Hurley’s team.

The lone analytical advantage Arizona State has, and arguably its only hope to pull off the upset, is turnovers committed per game. ASU averages 11.8 compared to Arizona’s 13.5, providing a game plan for Hurley to emphasize.

Yet, even if the Sun Devils force the Wildcats into committing turnovers, the home crowd in Tucson should lead to deadly runs that Arizona State is unable to overcome.

Washington football pac-12Utah at Washington

Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, WA
Saturday, January 29
2:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

It may not seem like it, but this is a vital matchup for Washington.

The Huskies have appeared to turn a corner since the start of the new year, yet the momentum gained could be reversed if Utah finds a way to win in Seattle.

With numerous advantages on paper, the Utes figure to keep this game close late into the second half. Branden Carlson has returned to the court, while Lazar Stefanovic continues to improve in his freshman year.

Washington’s Terrell Brown Jr. | Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

The difference, though, could be Washington’s home crowd. The Husky faithful should provide a tangible advantage for Mike Hopkins’ team, helping to generate runs built on turnovers and transition baskets.

The Husky players fed off the energy on Thursday, arguably changing the game in UW’s favor.

Without much of an inside presence, the Utes could be susceptible to penetration and dish plays from Washington’s guards and shots in the paint from its wings.

At the end of the day, Utah will need to out-rebound UW and limit turnovers to come away with the win.

usc logoCalifornia at No. 15 USC

Galen Center, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, January 29
4:00 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

Each seeking to avoid a sweep, California and USC do battle on the Pac-12 Network.

Mark Fox has been visually frustrated on the bench over the past few games, irritated with his team’s performances.

The disappointment from the head coach indicates the raised expectations Fox has for his program, which has incrementally improved year over year.

But the hurdle to the proverbial next level is a high bar to clear. Road victories remain elusive and Cal’s offense isn’t powerful enough to get the job done.

USC’s Boogie Ellis | Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Andy Enfield, on the other hand, is in his ninth season in L.A., yet his team is trending in the wrong direction at this point in the season.

Stanford completed a season sweep of USC on Thursday, and the Trojans still have to play Arizona and UCLA twice, along with a return trip to Oregon.

It’s beginning to feel like crunch time at the Galen Center, where USC needs a blowout win to get back on track.

Stanford at No. 7 UCLA

Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, January 29
6:30 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

In the Game of the Day in the Pac-12, UCLA hosts the surging Cardinal.

Stanford leads the Conference with four Quad 1 wins, making their case for an At-Large bid to the NCAA Tournament. But to turn the heads of the national media, Stanford needs to sweep the L.A. schools.

Oregon already proved it could be done, and UCLA is reported to be without Johnny Juzang and Jaylen Clark for the matchup at Pauley Pavilion.

But that leaves a bigger role for David Singleton and opens the door to Jake Kyman. The guards stepped up in Juzang’s absence on Thursday, combining for 15 points against California.

Stanford’s Spencer Jones | Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Peyton Watson figures to play more minutes as well, and Mick Cronin may even assign the freshman the job of defending Harrison Ingram.

Yet, the key to the game could come down to the number of turnovers the Tree commit.

Jerod Haase’s team won the turnover battle in both of their matchups with USC, demonstrating how difficult Stanford is to beat when they take care of the ball.

Standing in the way is the 15th-best defense in the country, according to KenPom. A win over the Bruins would probably put the Cardinal on the right side of the bubble in late January.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Oregon State at Oregon

Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR
Saturday, January 29
7:00 pm PT, ESPN2

The Battle for Oregon caps off its regular-season series as the nightcap in the Pac-12.

Broadcast on ESPN2, the opportunity is there for the Ducks to rebound from their loss to Colorado.

The Beavers enter the matchup with just three wins on the year, but played UO close in Corvallis just a few weeks ago.

Jarod Lucas must have a productive night to keep OSU within reach, and a second or third player on Tinkle’s team has to step up.

Oregon’s Eric Williams | Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard

On the other bench, Oregon’s inconsistency is worrying. After sweeping the L.A. schools, it appeared that the Ducks were back to form.

Dana Altman’s team then dropped a game at Matthew Knight Arena to Colorado, and all the questions returned.

Will Richardson might need to go toe-to-toe with Lucas at MKA, and Jacob Young can’t have another off night shooting the ball.

Yet, if the Oregon guards are hitting their shots, the Ducks should handle their business.

Colorado at Washington State

Friel Court at Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, WA
Sunday, January 30
7:00 pm PT, FS1

As the lone game on Sunday in the Conference of Champions, Colorado and Washington State will have the attention of the league.

And fortunately for all the neutrals involved, this game promises to be a tightly contested matchup. Both programs had NCAA Tournament hopes to start the year, and both are on the outside of the bubble looking in.

The winner of this game figures to have a stronger chance of securing an At-Large bid, and at the very least will have a game up on the other in the pivotal seeding for the Pac-12 Tournament.

WSU’s Efe Abogidi | Chris Gardner/Getty Images

WSU scores more points per game, turns the ball over fewer times per matchup, and rebounds the ball at a slightly higher clip. But Colorado is backed into a corner and needs a split to salvage the road swing.

Tad Boyle was furious after the performance in Seattle, and CU could play with an intensity that makes the difference in Pullman.

Still, Washington State’s Andrej Jakimovski has come on as of late and the North Macedonian’s production could tip the scales in WSU’s favor.

January 29-30 Game Picks

—More from Dane Miller—