Saturday Night Five: Staggering at the top, NCAA seeds preview, Alford’s COY shot, Sumlin’s recruiting dilemma and tackle trouble


Insta-reaction to recent developments on the court and off the field …

(Please note: The Friday edition of the Hotline newsletter, which featured football recruiting grades for each team and the usual array of links/commentary, was not delivered until Saturday because of a technical glitch. My apologies. And if you haven’t signed up for the newsletter, which is free, here’s the link.)

1. Does anybody want to win this conference? Anybody … Bueller … Bueller?

Instantly, the camera cuts to an arm rising meekly out of the southern Arizona desert.

But everywhere else, there is silence and paralysis.

The Wildcats, despite having lost two of the past three, somehow have a two-game lead on the pac with three weeks remaining.

We’re in the stretch run, and yet the leaders are stumbling to the finish.

Consider the performance this weekend of the teams on the top tier:

Arizona: 1-1
USC: 0-2
UCLA: 1-1
Washington: 0-2
Stanford: 1-1 (at best) or 0-2 (more likely)

Washington’s 0-2 was as bad as 0-2 gets. The Huskies scored 40 points in a blowout loss in Eugene and then squandering a 13-point lead with seven minutes remaining at Oregon State.

UCLA only played at a championship level once, which is no surprise given the inconsistency of the past three months.

Instead of facing Arizona with first place on the line, USC bungled a late lead in Tempe on Thursday, lost in Tucson and headed home with little chance for the regular season title.

Arizona State pulled off a sweep but is too far back in the standings to mount a serious challenge.

Stanford? Even with a win in Boulder on Sunday, the Cardinal would be two games back with the Arizona roadtrip to come.

The Wildcats? They’re flawed, for sure, but they could end up winning the conference at 14-4/13-5, with nobody else better than 11-7.

Oh, the mediocrity!

2. Speaking of mediocrity: We’ll see proof in a matter of hours.

The NCAA selection committee will reveal its working list of top-16 seeds on Sunday morning (9:30 a.m., CBS).

It’s the second year of the mid-February bracket peek, which is designed to generate interest and increase transparency in the process.

Hard to imagine any Pac-12 representation on the list.

The problem, in two parts:

1) Teams that recorded quality non-conference wins (Washington, Arizona State) haven’t excelled during conference play, and

2) Teams that have played reasonably well in conference (Arizona, USC, UCLA) don’t have the non-conference bonafides to support a top-four seed.

Yes, that includes Arizona.

The Wildcats have only two of the all-important Quadrant 1 victories, which is plenty good for an at-large berth but not enough for a top-four seed.

Will we even hear the Pac-12’s name mentioned during the 30 minute show?

3. The COY race is wide open …

For two months, Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley looked like a lock to win conference coach of the year.

Then ASU stumbled and Washington ascended, and it seemed like Mike Hopkins was destined to win.

Then the Huskies headed a few hours south on I-5 and, in 72 hours, set a shot-clock-era record for fewest points (40, in Eugene) and produced the biggest …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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