How many bids will come out of the Pac-10 this year? There's a distinct possibility of the conference receiving just one bid to the NCAA Tournament given the unimpressive resumes of its primary contenders. And that essentially means the entire league with ten teams separated by just two games in the standings. However, the winner of Thursday's matchup between California and Washington in Berkeley will go a long way towards deciding who's got the inside track for the automatic bid.
Are the Huskies in trouble? Well, considering their 3-4 Pac-10 record and lack of a true road victory you can definitely make a case that they are. Thursday's loss to UCLA was a tough one, falling 62-61 when one-time walk-on Mustafa Abdul-Hamid knocked down a pull-up jumper from the top of the key as time expired. Abdul-Hamid's shot was preceded by Venoy Overton's coast-to-coast dash in which no Bruin defender stepped up to change his path to the basket. But with the Bruins still having 3.2 seconds to make something happen that defensive error no longer mattered.
To say the least Saturday is a big day for both the Butler Bulldogs and the Pac-10. Butler hosts Ohio State and given the fact that Brad Stevens' team lacks a marquee win the Buckeyes represent one of their last two chances (Xavier) at a solid win before tackling Horizon League play. Ohio State is without the services of the injured Evan Turner, which will be a definite advantage for the Bulldogs.
The Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series is set up differently than than the recently completed ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with games being spread out over a couple of weeks. The Pac-10 has taken more than its fair share of shots to this point in the season and tonight's 0-for-3 outcome certainly didn't help their cause. #10 Washington losing at Texas Tech in overtime was a tough blow to the league but that was a game in which the Red Raiders (more on them later) were right in the thick of things throughout and nearly won it in regulation on a Mike Singletary three.
With usual Pac-10 powers Arizona and UCLA in re-loading mode, the door is open for California & Washington to put their stamp on the 2009-10 season.