If we had a few more weeks before the start of Pac-10 conference play, the Pac might be feeling a little better about their national prospects. UW is the only ranked team right now, but USC, Cal, WSU and ASU all got some votes in the last round of polls. USC looked especially good taking out #8 Tennessee and #20 UNLV in the last couple weeks. So there's hope yet for a decent showing in March.
ESPN is even starting to come around to this notion - read it here - but no mention of Washington State yet. I think that will change.
On to opening week and we know what that means. Hold serve!! If you can't win at home, you're sunk. Among the contenders, only ASU has a real chance to steal one from USC this weekend.
Arizonas visit SoCals:
Smoking-hot USC gets an Arizona school reeling and coming off a stomping by BYU. Arizona can't like this matchup and this timing. Arizona State won't be so easy on Saturday and brings a similar resume as USC. Both USC and ASU have senior guards leading the team by points and assists. Both have played a tough pre-conference schedule. I have to give the edge to USC at home but ASU could surprise and really make some waves in this early Pac-10 litmis test.
PREDICTION: USC over UA, USC over ASU (barely)
ASU will easily handle UCLA on Thursday. The Arizona/UCLA match could be interesting if only to see if UCLA is really going to move into the Pac-10 cellar this season. If they can't beat a struggling Arizona squad at home, chances are they will.
PREDICTION: ASU over UCLA, UA over UCLA
Oregons visit Washingtons:
Let's not talk about the Ducks. Ever. Wins for both UW and WSU against them. OSU could be a different story as they've got some alright wins under their belt and rebound well but don't score much and that's going to be a problem in Seattle and Pullman.
PREDICTION: Washington and WSU sweep with authority.
Stanford visits Cal
Everything points to the Bears in this early NorCal tilt. If Stanford does pull the upset, however, media-darling Cal should be instantly dropped from everyone's list. I think there's three better teams in the Pac-10 right now and probably four. I'm watching you Cal.
PREDICTION: Cal over Stanford