Men's hoops: 12 games to watch

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The Pac-12 Post's preview of the 2012-13 men's basketball season continues with 12 intriguing contests to watch in the coming months:

UCLA vs. Georgetown (November 19, 5 p.m. PT, ESPN2)

Conferences are largely judged by how their constituents perform against teams from other leagues, and with all the hype surrounding UCLA, a lot of eyes will be on the Bruins and how they perform in November and December. A victory over storied Georgetown in Brooklyn as part of the Legends Classic would be a big score for not just UCLA, but the rest of the Pac as well. A win against the Hoyas would also potentially set up a match-up with another powerhouse: Indiana.

[Related: 12 men to watch]

Stanford vs. Missouri (November 22, 10 a.m. PT, AXS TV)

The Cardinal enter the new year with a lot of momentum; winning last year’s NIT Championship has a lot of folks on The Farm thinking this is the year Stanford returns to the Big Dance. Those hopes could gain more traction with a 2-1 showing or better in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, an eight-team tournament consisting of Stanford, Missouri, Duke, Louisville, Memphis, Minnesota, VCU and Northern Iowa- even the Washington football team thinks that’ll be a tough three-game stretch. Of course, it all starts with the Tigers, a 30-win team from a year ago.

Cal @ Wisconsin (December 2, TBA, Big Ten Network)

Wanna see some well-coached basketball teams go at it? Tune in on December 2 to see the Golden Bears do battle with Wisconsin in Madison. Mike Montgomery and Bo Ryan have been very successful head coaches, and it’s not just because of the talent they recruit; they know how to coach 'em up. The Golden Bears have to replace the production and hustle of Jorge Gutierrez, last year’s Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, but they will have a couple of guys to lean on in Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe, both of whom should be able to provide a nice scoring punch.

Colorado @ Kansas (December 8, 11 a.m. PT, ESPN2)

If you attend Buffs Madness on Friday, you might be the lucky person to walk away with a trip for two to watch the Buffaloes play this game in person. Third-year Colorado head coach Tad Boyle returns to his alma mater, where he won a Big Eight Tournament championship and played in two NCAA tournaments. The Jayhawks have been one of the most consistently successful programs in all of college hoops, so a solid showing by the Buffaloes would go a long way for their all-important RPI.

Florida @ Arizona (December 15, 7 p.m. PT, ESPN)

This is a rematch from last year’s hotly-contested battle won by the Gators in Gainesville. However, it didn’t come until after Arizona’s Solomon Hill hit three free throws in the waning seconds to send the game to overtime. The Wildcats haven’t hosted a non-conference opponent this big since Kansas came to Tucson four years ago, so the ZonaZoo should be hyped for this one. Like UCLA, there will be a lot of eyeballs on the Wildcats thanks to another stellar recruiting class brought in by Sean Miller. A win over an Elite 8 participant from the year before will only vault the Wildcats into further national prominence.

Colorado @ Arizona (January 3, 5 p.m. PT, ESPNU)

The opening week of Pac-12 play features a rematch of the Pac-12 tournament championship game from last season. Last March, Colorado won a defensive struggle, but not before Arizona nearly erased a 12-point second half deficit. Both teams are likely to be projected to finish in the top half of the conference again, and the Wildcats will have their first shot at revenge on their home court.

Washington @ Cal (January 9, 8 p.m. PT, ESPN2)

This year’s schedule calls for the Huskies and Golden Bears to play just once in the regular season, so there should be a heightened intensity in this clash of the top two teams in last year’s regular season standings (Cal held a tiebreaker over Oregon to claim the No. 2 seed in last year’s Pac-12 tournament). These teams played a dandy last year, with Washington cutting a 13-point deficit all the way down to two before Cal escaped Seattle with a 69-66 victory. Watching Allen Crabbe and C.J. Wilcox trying to outshoot each other should be a thing of beauty.

USC @ Utah (January 12, 3 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks)

Injuries derailed the Trojans to a 1-17 last place finish in the 2011-12 Pac-12 standings, but that one win came against the Runnin’ Utes of Utah. USC will have a much more talented roster this year with a healthy Jio Fontan and Dewayne Dedmon along with a host of transfers. Utah finished just one spot above the Trojans last year, but came away with a big win late in the season against Stanford and made numerous opponents sweat it out, especially in Salt Lake City. Utah’s Jason Washburn vs. USC’s Dedmon should be an interesting battle to watch down low.

Washington @ Oregon (January 26, 4 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks)

It’s always a fun time when these Pacific Northwest rivals meet. The two put on an especially good showing in the NIT quarterfinal round last year, with Washington winning the shootout 90-86 to earn a trip to Madison Square Garden. Major players from that game on both sides have moved on, but considering the track records of head coaches Dana Altman and Lorenzo Romar, the Ducks and Huskies should still be very competitive squads.

Oregon State @ Washington State (February 13, 7 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks)

The Beavers and Cougars faced off four times last season, with Washington State beating Oregon State in the semifinals of the CBI after the Beavers eliminated the Cougs in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. While the two postseason meetings featured a little more defense, the squads combined for more than 150 points in each of the two regular season meetings. The Cougars return the Pac-12’s leading scorer in Brock Motum, who was a big reason why Ken Bone’s Kids went 3-1 against the Beavs last season.

Stanford @ Oregon State (February 21, 8 p.m. PT, ESPNU)

The Cardinal and Beavers played a memorable one the last time they squared off in Corvallis, with Stanford winning a quadruple-overtime thriller 103-101. It looked like Oregon State was going to run away with the game in the first half, especially when Roberto Nelson hit two three-pointers with one shoe on, but the Cardinal methodically erased a 15-point deficit and almost won it in regulation before a game-winning Josh Owens layup was deemed to be released just after the final buzzer sounded. Little did the teams know then that it would take another 20 minutes to decide a victor…

Arizona State @ Arizona (March 9, 1:30 p.m. PT, FSN)

The Wildcats had won seven of eight entering their regular season finale at Arizona State. As long as they beat a down Sun Devil squad, the Wildcats would be in good position for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament… But Carrick Felix and Jonathan Gilling had other plans, as the two combined for 44 of Arizona State’s 87 points in an upset victory over Arizona that most likely pushed the Wildcats off the bubble. The season finale is in Tucson this time around; will the Wildcats make up for last year’s disappointing regular season finale? Or will Arizona State provide another sour note on Arizona’s Senior Day...

Stay tuned.


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