Five Games to Watch in this Year’s Pac-12

Pac-12 Basketball

With the recent release of the Pac-12 Conference’s schedule for the upcoming 2017-2018 season, let’s take a look at some of the more exciting matchups.

Oregon Arizona

1. Oregon @ Arizona (Week of Jan. 10)

Possibly the most anticipated game of the Pac-12 season, Oregon and Arizona ended last year as the conference’s co-champions. Needless to say, this game is a must win in the eyes of both teams; beyond the contest, each roster has something to prove. Arizona may be looking like the stronger team as the season approaches, but undoubtedly both squads return this year with depth, talent, and an itch to show who deserved the crown of the Pac-12 more last year.

USC UCLA

2. USC @ UCLA (Week of Jan. 31)

The classic Golden State matchup, USC v. UCLA never disappoints. USC may be looking forward to the matchup more so this year, now that Lonzo Ball’s dominance has moved just a short way down the road to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, with UCLA’s return of Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh, the Trojans will be no easy challenge to overcome. Bleacher Report preseason rankings finds USC at number ten, thanks to the return of Bennie Boatwright, Chimezie Metu, and Shaquan Aaron. If USC has plans of joining the conference’s elite this season, beating rival UCLA is a good place to start.

UCLA Arizona

3. UCLA @ Arizona, USC @ Arizona State (Week of Feb. 7)

The combination of four powerhouse Pac-12 teams, not just two, highlights this week as one of the most anticipated of the season. While we know the talent that USC, UCLA, and Arizona will be returning is bound to be strong this season, ASU’s squad cannot be overlooked, and will certainly pose a threat to the Trojans, as USC heads to ASU’s home court. With one of the highest scoring backcourts in the Pac-12, the Sun Devils will utilize the ability of their combination of guards to score from the outside, as well as pester the Trojans with under the rim talent.

ASU Arizona

4. Arizona @ Arizona State (Week of Feb. 14)

More commonly known in the southwest as the Duel in the Desert, this fierce rivalry mirrors that of USC and UCLA. No matter what the difference in talent is between these two teams, this game will always be interesting. This year, fans are lucky enough to have two teams that are not worlds apart for the most part. Both sides have talented players returning, and neophytes waiting to be tested. Realistically, Arizona does have the better team–all the reason that their matchup away at ASU is just a bit more anticipated.

Stanford Cal

5. California @ Stanford (Week of Dec. 27)

Ok, so maybe people have their doubts about California; granted, they did have quote an exodus of talent at the end of last season. However, they have a lot of potential to be a good team if they use it correctly. A new head coach means a new coaching style, which means confusion for opponents. Playing against a new coach in college basketball can often leave teams just as baffled as playing against new players. Returning players include defensive threat Kingsley Okoroh, as well as Kentucky transfer Marcus Lee, whose scoring ability will have to be put to good use if Cal wants to see a chance at beating Stanford.

Twitter: @andrew_mck11

Marvin Bagley’s Possible Impact if He Reclassifies

It was reported weeks ago that Marvin Bagley, the top player in the class of 2018, filed paperwork to re-class and enroll in college next season. Last night, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported that Bagley will make his college decision tonight. This move is less about playing college basketball this season, and more about declaring for the NBA Draft this Spring. Bagley is doing everything possible to make himself eligible for a team by this Fall. With his commitment coming tonight, let’s take a look at how Bagley could impact the six schools with the chance of landing him.

Duke

Many perceive Duke to be the favorite to land Bagley tonight. The Blue Devils once again brought in a strong recruiting class. But with Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum going pro, Amile Jefferson graduating and Chase Jeter transferring, there still could be added firepower to the front court in Cameron. The addition of Bagley would deepen Coach K’s roster, something they have struggled with come March. Bagley, who already took an official visit to Duke, could slide right into the line up alongside Wendell Carter and give Coach K a much more solid front court duo to compliment a strong back court ofTrevon Duval and Grayson Allen. Having landed Tre Jones yesterday, it could be quite the two days for the Blue Devils if Bagley chooses Duke.

USC

USC woud love to pick up where they left off last season with a late commitment from Bagley, who has already taken an official visit. The Trojans won a play in game before winning a last second thriller over SMU in the NCAA Tournament this past March. They return key contributors to last year’s NCAA team and are expected to be a top team in the Pac 12 this year. Unlike most teams on this list that could use front court help, the Trojans’ two top returning players are 6’10 Bennie Boatwright and 6’11 Chimezie Metu. While this would be a problem welcomed by head coach Andy Enfield, it could prove to be an issue if the three cannot play together.

UCLA

Steve Alford would love nothing more than to replace two NBA lottery picks with the probable #1 overall pick of whatever draft he enters. After losing Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf to the NBA, Alford has holes to fill. He also lost son, Bryce and fellow senior Isaac Hamilton to graduation. Those four players contributed 60 points per game last year for the Bruins. And while Alford’s incoming group of freshman is another strong group, Bagley would put them over the top and give Arizona a run for its money for Pac 12 champ. Bagley would be paired alongside incoming freshman Cody Riley, and give UCLA as big and strong of a front court as any team in the country.

The three schools above are clear favorites to land Bagley, as he took official visits to all three spots. However, anything can happen in the college basketball world. Arizona, Kentucky and Kansas are all long shots to land Bagley, but with three of the best recruiters in CBB running each team, you can’t call them dead. My guess is Bagley ends up at Duke and there will be a new preseason #1 in College Basketball. Twitter seemed to agree.

Previewing the Pac-12

Arizona

The Pac 12 had the most successful Spring of any conference last basketball season. As a whole they got four teams into the tournament, three into the Sweet 16, two into the Elite 8 and one into the Final Four. And let’s not brush over USC’s upset over fan favorite SMU team. Following the Madness, the conference then saw two of its players go #1 and #2 in the 2017 NBA Draft. The trend of success should continue, as more highly touted prospects join the conference for the 2017-18 season. Let’s take a look at some early pre-season predictions. It should be noted that this does not include the potential transfer of Marvin Bagley, the top player in the Class of 2018 that several Pac 12 teams are in the running for.

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