On Friday night, conference play returns to the Conference of Champions for the first time since last season’s Pac-12 Tournament, as the league portion of the schedule finally tips-off.
The season opening slate will feature four games on the night, highlighted by two intriguing match-ups between Oregon-Utah and USC-Washington.
The full weekend slate for beginning of Pac-12 conference match-ups can be found below.
Friday, December 29th
7:00 PM: Oregon v. Utah (Fox Sports 1)
7:30 PM: USC v. Washington (Pac-12)
8:00 PM: Oregon State v. Colorado
8:00 PM: UCLA v. Washington State
Saturday, December 30th
6:00 PM: #17 Arizona v. #3 Arizona State (Pac-12)
7:00 PM: Stanford v. California (Fox Sports 1)
Sunday, December 31st
3:00 PM: Oregon State v. Utah (Pac-12)
5:00 PM: UCLA v. Washington (Pac-12)
6:00 PM: USC v. Washington State
7:00 PM: Oregon v. Colorado (Pac-12)
(All times listed in Pacific Time)
From there, we’ll move on to our version of some “superlatives” as we head into conference play, which is clearly overtaken by the surprise 12-0 start to the season by Arizona State. Their arch rivals in Arizona may still be the hunted but the Sun Devils are trying to be the “new kids on the block” under head coach Bobby Hurley.
Superlatives (At The Moment)
Best Team: Arizona State
It’s hard to argue with what the Sun Devils have accomplished so far, despite a relative lack of preseason hype. A road win at Kansas only cemented what impressive victories over Xavier, St. John’s, Kansas State, Vanderbilt and San Diego State all proved. Arizona State as they real as they come this season.
Best Player: Tra Holder (Arizona State)
Holder will have to stay on an all-time great level to keep his torrid pace up for the rest of the season, which may be possible in the Sun Devils’ free-wheeling style. Averaging 21.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game on the season, while also shooting 45.1% from the behind the arc is just ridiculous.
Biggest Surprise: Arizona State
At the risk of being boring or giving too much credit to Arizona State, it’s really fair to say that their 12-0 start is unprecedented. Bobby Hurley is the type of coach who doesn’t shy away from playing the best, which resonates with the Sun Devils’ first league game of the season. A nice quiet road trip to their in-state rivals in Tucson.
Biggest Disappointment: Stanford
The Cardinal were expected to lean on their veteran talents to turn the second season of the Jerod Haase era into a potential NCAA Tournament trip, but the wheels have simply fallen off the wagon early for Stanford. Losses to Eastern Washington and Portland State are just displays of how bad it has gotten for the Cardinal.
Breakthrough Player: Don Coleman (California)
Who in the world in Don Coleman? After averaging just 4.6 points per game in a minimal role last year for the Golden Bears, Coleman has broken through into one of the league’s most impressive talents. Currently fourth in the conference in scoring at 20.5 points per contest, the 6’ 3”, 200-pounder has emerged as the star for California.
Most Impressive Freshman: Deandre Ayton (Arizona)
You don’t need Bill Walton to know that Deandre Ayton is “a mountain masquerading as a man”, with his absolutely imposing NBA size and frame. A top recruit who was expected to take the conference by storm, Ayton is currently fifth in scoring, first in rebounds and third in field goal percentage in a Pac-12 full of talented play-makers.