12 Pac-12 men's basketball games to watch in the 2014-15 season
The Pac-12 Conference has released the complete TV schedule for the 2014-15 men’s campaign. So many good games… how to choose just 12 to watch? Let's try anyway:
California vs. Syracuse (Nov. 20, 6 p.m. PT, ESPN2)
The first big test of the Cuonzo Martin era comes in the 2K Classic at the Garden against a squad that has become quite familiar to the Golden Bears over the last couple of years. Cal put up a valiant fight before losing to 'Cuse 66-60 in the round of 32 in the 2013 NCAA tournament, then lost the rematch in the Maui Invitational 92-81 last November. Will the third time be the charm?
Wichita State at Utah (Dec. 3, 8 p.m. PT/9 MT, ESPN2)
As it became clear that Larry Krystkowiak’s Utes were much improved and ready to contend for an NCAA tournament bid, some attention turned to how weak Utah’s non-conference schedule has been in recent years. Well, with the Shockers, Kansas (in Kansas City), San Diego State (road), BYU (road) and UNLV (neutral site in Vegas) all on the schedule, I’d say the Utes have beefed up the non-league slate quite a bit.
Washington State vs. Gonzaga (Dec. 10, 8 p.m. PT, ESPNU)
The Cougars have become the little brother in this eastern Washington rivalry as of late, so a win against the Bulldogs in Spokane would make a huge splash for Ernie Kent in his first season at the helm in the Palouse. Washington State hasn’t won in the series since Klay Thompson was donning the crimson and gray, but DaVonté Lacy will try to rally the troops in his last dance against the Zags.
Michigan at Arizona (Dec. 13, 2:15 p.m. PT/3:15 MT, ESPN)
These two teams played a dandy in Ann Arbor last season, with the Wildcats clawing back in the second half to nab a 72-70 victory. And, with both teams coming off Elite Eight appearances and projected to be major players in the national landscape again, plenty of eyeballs will be on the rematch in Tucson.
Kentucky vs. UCLA (Dec. 20, 12:30 p.m. PT, CBS)
Two of the most storied programs in college basketball will square off in Chicago as part of the four-team CBS Sports Classic (North Carolina will battle Ohio State in the other game). With a lot of pieces back from last year’s Final Four team and the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation according to Scout, Kentucky figures to be the preseason No. 1 team in the country. But Steve Alford has brought in three five-star guys of his own (UCLA has the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation) to help offset the major personnel losses from last year’s Sweet 16 squad.
UCLA at Colorado (Jan. 2, 7 p.m. PT/8 MT, FOX Sports 1)
It might be the opening weekend of conference play, but a game like this could go a long way in determining seeding for the NCAA tournament (not to get too far ahead of ourselves, of course). You know the C-Unit will be rocking for this one, as it always is.
Arizona State at Arizona (Jan. 4, 4 p.m. PT/5 MT, FOX Sports 1)
Who could forget the last time these teams played? Arizona will look for some revenge after dropping a double-OT thriller in Tempe last Valentine’s Day. And this is just the first week of conference play. Get your popcorn ready.
Cal at USC (Jan. 7, 8 p.m. PT, ESPNU)
The Trojans won just two conference games in Andy Enfield’s first season in Troy, but this was one of ‘em, and it came at a time in which the Golden Bears were previously undefeated in conference play. USC figures to be much stronger this year with an infusion of talent – the Trojans have the 12th-ranked recruiting class in the nation according to Scout, so you’ll want to get a glimpse of USC.
UConn at Stanford (Jan. 17, 6 p.m. PT, ESPN2)
What a season for the UConn Huskies last year. The national champs ducked nobody and did not drop a game outside American Athletic Conference play except for one. Who beat ‘em? Johnny Dawkins’ boys – in Connecticut, no less. That win was a major reason why the Cardinal got into the NCAA tournament for the first time in Dawkins’ tenure, and part deux should be another nail-biter.
Arizona at Washington (Feb. 13, 6 p.m. PT, ESPN)
Need to quench your hoops thirst during NBA All-Star Weekend? Lorenzo Romar and Sean Miller have your back. The Dawgs have slid back in recent years, but it wasn’t too long ago that these teams had some all-out wars, and the last Pac-10 game ever played was an instant classic (with an awesome call from Gus Johnson to boot).
Oregon at UCLA (Feb. 14, 12 p.m. PT, FOX/FOX Sports 1)
Still itching for hoops during All-Star Weekend, NBA Jones? The Ducks and Bruins are here for you. Awesome game between these two teams on this court last season, as a short-handed UCLA team got 31 points from Bryce Alford and a buzzer-beating three-pointer from David Wear to send it to overtime before eventually falling to the Quacks in double OT.
Oregon at Oregon State (March 4, 8 p.m. PT, ESPNU)
Wayne Tinkle’s first regular season as a Pac-12 head coach comes against his team’s fiercest rival. The disparity in the standings never matters when these two square off. Oregon-Oregon State games always lean towards the highly entertaining end of the spectrum – a total of 328 points were scored in the two regular-season meetings between the Ducks and Beavs last season, so 90 might not be enough to get it done in this game.