When it comes to making tournament bracket predictions a few weeks out, glad that this blogger doesn't seem to have a clue. Sure, did manage to predict Oregon State would finish 10th.
Oh, here's a grand prognostication. My picks of UCLA to finish first and Stanford to come in second turned out to be correct as well. That's it folks. The way the rest completed conference play came as a surprise. Or did it?
Wait a minute. The prediction garbage is over. Now it's time to look at the real deal.
If you're a Coug, you have to be pleased with the way the brackets worked out for the Pac-10 Tournament. Washington State won't face UCLA unless they reach the finals.
First up for the Cougars are those Fightin' Ducks from Eugene.
Oregon came on strong at the end of the season because of some very nice sharpshooting from outside. WSU knows how to beat this Oregon team because they have already accomplished that feat twice this year.
Sorry, but this blogger doesn't buy into all the history of Oregon and Coach Ernie Kent dominating WSU in recent years. That was then, we're trying to take a look at the reality of today. If ever there was a team ripe to knock off the Cougs because of losing a couple in a row to them, it's the Huskies.
After the double overtime win last Saturday, WSU has a streak of seven in a row over the Dawgs. This Cougar team will be coached to perfection by Coach Tony Bennett. Will they execute his game plan? You bet. Cougs will make it three in a row over Oregon.
Looking at the bracket Washington State is in, the first game is an early Christmas present for Arizona. The 'Cats get to beat up on the Beavers one more time, mercifully ending the nightmare for Oregon State called the "2007-2008 season."
The reward for Arizona? No, it's not settling the impending controversy raised by the return of Coach Lute Olson next season.
The 'Cats get another crack at Stanford. The Cardinal have managed two nail-biting wins over Arizona during conference play. Can they do it again? Will the Lopez towers dominate? Nope. No sir. Stanford can be beaten by teams that can drain threes. Arizona both can and will do that very thing.
Arizona-WSU for the third time this season.
As match-ups go, Coach Bennett and his team wouldn't mind getting another crack at the Wildcats. WSU lost both games to Arizona during the regular season. In fact, Arizona blew the Cougs away in Tucson. Coach Bennett has yet to come up with a way to slow down Chase Budinger. Then again, very few coaches have figured that one out. If the WSU defense can keep the combination of Budinger and Jerryd Bayless under 30 combined points, they have a chance of winning.
Will the third time be the charm for Washington State? You bet! They advance to the finals where anything can happen.
On the other side of the tournament bracket, Cal should be able to handle the Huskies. Losing Jon Brockman is a serious blow to the UW.
Cal will then be taken seriously by UCLA this time around and sent packing.
The other game on this side of the bracket matches USC and ASU.
USC has been playing up to their potential at season end. Given the athletic talent of their club, that's saying something. Trojans will defeat Arizona State to set up another Pac-10 classic.
If the Trojans can stay out of foul trouble, this has the potential to be the best game of the tournament. UCLA is much deeper than USC. Coach Ben Howland will have his troops do their best to frustrate Coach Tim Floyd and company.
This time of the year, defense usually wins. UCLA has arguably the best defense in the Pac-10. This one should be another Bruin victory any way you look at it.
There you have it. Final game UCLA-WSU. Prediction?
Are you kidding me?