NCAA

Pre-tourney look at Pac-12

681594.jpg

Pre-tourney look at Pac-12

Well class, we havent had a chance to sit down and talk about Pac-12 basketball in a while, have we? Remember when we said -- back in November -- that the league was down a bit this year?

Guess what? The leagues not down its downright taken root. It's required by the NCAA that the conference tournament winner be selected as a leagues representative to its postseason dance, but beyond that there are no guarantees for anyone -- up to and including the conference champions. And, while I never thought Id see the day that the Pac had just a single representative in the NCAA Tournament, this could possibly be the year.
RELATED: Pac-12 standings Top 25 polls NCAA leaders

To start, the Pac 12s non-conference winning percentage is lower than the cost of a share of stock in a Nevada silver mine. That is to say worthless.

That in itself will drive the selection committee to say, Lets see, shall we take Oregon or Seattle Pacific? Well, Seattle Pacific is a D2 school -- but they beat Arizona. Lets go for them.

Heres a pre-tournament rundown of the Pac 12 -- through jaded eyes.

Cal
Mike Montgomery has been masterful in what hes done with this team. They play hard, theyre tough, theyre experienced and theyre one player short. They can win any game. Or lose any game. Pretty much like the rest of the league.

Washington
Too many good players, not enough basketballs. Tony Wroten is the freshman of the year, a one-and-done guy, one of the best players in the conference -- and the Huskies would be better off without him. I get the sense that Lorenzo Romar -- one of my favorite guys -- would rather be watching a colonoscopy than what he sees from a talented bunch of players and one really selfish one.

Stanford
Youthful, athletic, wonderful young men who seem to be in every game and just cant find a way to close the deal. I sometimes get the sense that Johnny Dawkins is asking for volunteers.

UCLA
This team is big, soft, fat and brings a shot selection that has the coach using all his timeouts in the first 22 minutes of a game. By which time he usually has nothing left to say to his team anyway. Not a staunch group.

Oregon
Six transfers and an ability to win on the road make the Ducks at least an interesting team to watch. Wouldnt shock me if they won the Pac-12 Tournament. Dana Altman: Coach of the year. Team: A bunch of guys.

Oregon State
This is the most complete team in the conference. Only drawback is that they dont win. I dont get it. The Beavs usually start slow and finish fast. This year, the opposite. They simply should be better than they are.

Arizona
Two words: Freshman guards. The 'Cats are well coached and talented but wildly inconsistent because of backcourt youth. Also, weaving AAU stars into a college program can be problematic when they feel they already know more than the coach. They dont. Especially in the case of Sean Miller. Next year for the 'Cats.

Colorado
Unknown, untalked about, and one of the better teams in the league. The Buffs are still learning how to win at sea level but Tad Boyle has done a masterful coaching job with a team picked 11th in the conference.

Washington State
Give it up for coach Ken Bone. He got the most of what he had. Which was very little. It aint easy recruiting to Pullman, Wash. -- unless its very dark out.

USC
Their hopes ended in September in Brazil when Tio Fontan went down with a season-ending injury. Kevin ONeil said he and his assistants sat on a bench on Ipanema Beach drinking Mojitos until dawn. He knew it was going to be bad. It was worse.

Arizona State
No point guard, internal problems, best player down with injury for much of the season, more turnovers per game than people in the stands. Tough year for Herb Sendek.

Utah
Worse college basketball team Ive seen in this conference in -- let me think -- ever.

Other than that though, its been a hell of a year in the Pac 12.

Barry Tompkins is a regular contributor to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and Chronicle Live.

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

pitino-sad-ap.jpg
AP

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach’s attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino.

Pitino’s exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men’s program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director’s nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

cal-usc-ap.jpg
AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.