Pac-12 must rework schedule to allow Arizona Wildcats to play UCLA twice in regular season


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The Arizona Wildcats-Washington Huskies rivalry in basketball has brought us some suspenseful moments, but now because of the unbalanced Pac-12 scheduling, fans are left with less of a chance to witness these teams play each other.

Washington fans in Seattle will not get the opportunity to watch Arizona’s No. 1 team this year. It will be the first time since 1979 that the Wildcats will not take one of the best road trips in the Pac-12 (I’m biased because I was once the Arizona Daily Star beat reporter).

Arizona’s best rivalries in the Pac-12 to evolve since the hire of Lute Olson in 1983:

1. UCLA (by far, the Pac-12’s version of Duke-North Carolina)
2. Washington (most competitive against Arizona in last decade)
3. Stanford (people still think of Todd Lichti with disdain but the rivalry has cooled quite a bit since Mike Montgomery left)
4. California (five overtime games, including a triple-OT and two double-OT games in the series)
5. ASU (only because its Arizona’s arch-rival).

Oregon and Colorado are on the brink of cracking into that top five because of how competitive each team is under Dana Altman and Tad Boyle, respectively.

It so happens that because of the Pac-12’s unbalanced scheduling, due to the addition of Colorado and Utah in 2011, that Arizona only plays its top two rivals once this season. That’s a shame, especially in the case of the Wildcats and Bruins, the standard-bearers of the conference who are the only Pac-12 programs to win a national title in the last 20 years.

Can you imagine the ACC allowing Duke to play North Carolina only once in the regular season, cheating one of the team’s fans the chance to see the rivalry in person (not to mention preventing balance to the storied rivalry)?

The ACC made sure the Duke-North Carolina rivalry remained balanced with the recent addition of Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse.


ArizonaLogo logo.Wash

WASJHINGTON (9-5, 1-0) VS.
NO. 1 ARIZONA (14-0, 1-0)

Tip: 12:05 p.m. MST
Television: Pac-12 Networks (JB Long/Don MacLean/Cindy Brunson)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 92; XM 193
Rankings: Arizona – 1/1; Washington – NR/NR

ARIZONA BEST STARTS

Record Team Finish Coach
16-0 1931-32 18-2 Fred Enke Sr.
14-0 2012-13 27-8 Sean Miller
14-0 2013-14 ??? Sean Miller
12-0 1987-88 35-3 Lute Olson
9-0 1914-15 9-0 Pop McKale
9-0 1921-22 10-2 James Pierce

The ACC membership is now 15 schools. There will continue to be an 18-game conference schedule, but with two primary partners rather than the current setup of one. North Carolina will play Duke and N.C. State twice a year. Wake Forest is the other partner for both the Blue Devils and North Carolina State.

The remaining 14 games on a team’s league schedule will involve home-and-away matchups with two rotating opponents, five home-only opponents and five away-only opponents.

The Pac-12 should look into something similar, matching each traditional rival with one other conference opponent as a pair and scheduling annual home-and-away matchups with other teams. For example, Arizona can be paired with UCLA and ASU and UCLA with Arizona and USC, ASU can be paired with Arizona and Colorado and Colorado with ASU and Utah, etc.

The only reason why the ACC adopted this schedule was to avoid Duke and North Carolina from only playing once in the regular season.

Another possible solution is to schedule a non-conference game between UCLA and Arizona when the programs are scheduled to meet only once in the Pac-12 season, as will be the case this season and next.

Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott should not view this with passing interest. If it was important for the ACC to keep the Duke-North Carolina rivalry balanced, why shouldn’t the Pac-12 do the same about Arizona-UCLA?

Enjoy the Washington-Arizona rivalry as much as possible today at McKale. The Huskies do not return to Tucson until 2016. By then, the lineups for both teams will likely be completely different. The chance for a revenge matchup within a season is gone. The continuity is gone.

ARIZONA OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY RATING

Player Pos G S PP MIN PR
Nick Johnson SG 14 14 312 421 .741
Kaleb Tarczewski C 12 11 209 308 .679
R. Hollis-Jefferson SF 14 2 220 327 .673
Brandon Ashley PF 14 14 258 366 .672
Aaron Gordon SF 14 14 263 423 .622
T.J. McConnell PG 14 14 206 419 .492
Gabe York SG 14 1 130 271 .480
AVG 5-9.9 MIN
Matt Korcheck PF 8 0 21 41 .512
Elliott Pitts SG 6 0 8 35 .229
Jordin Mayes PG 14 0 13 86 .151
AVG 1-4.9 MIN
Jacob Hazzard PG 7 0 11 19 .579
Trey Mason SG 6 0 7 16 .438
Erik Conklin F 6 0 7 16 .438
Drew Mellon F 5 0 2 11 .182
Zach Peters C 4 0 -3 16 -.188
TOTAL TEAM 1562 2600 .601

ARIZONA’S STRENGTHS VS. QUESTION MARKS
Per NCAA national statistic rankings out of 345 Division I teams

Rank Category Stat Rank Category Stat
#3 Reb margin 12.6 avg #264 Steals 5.4 avg
#3 Scoring def 54.4 pts #258 3pt FG made 5.4 avg
#5 FG% defense 36.2 #232 FT% shooting 67.2
#6 Scoring margin 20.7 #215 Total steals 76.0
#16 Fouls per game 15.9 #212 3pt FG made 75

Arizona is No. 1 and 14-0 despite deficiencies with steals, free-throw shooting and number of three-pointers made. Arizona is solid with its rebounding, defense particular in the lane and overall shooting percentage. The Wildcats are taking smart shots by taking advantage of their size inside. The Wildcats have improved upon their early deficiencies such as turnovers (11.2 a game, ranking 63rd nationally) and personal fouls.

ARIZONA AS NO. 1 TEAM

Season Rec. Pct.
1987-88
December 21-January 3 3-1 .750
January 11-February 7 6-1 .857
1988-89
February 6-February 12 1-1 .500
February 27-March 13 5-0 1.000
1997-98
November 20-November 30 4-1 .800
2000-01
November 20-November 26 3-1 .750
2002-03
November 23-December 22 5-1 .833
January 20-February 2 3-1 .750
February 10-March 16 7-1 .875
2013-14
December 9-January 5 5-0 1.000
TOTAL 42-8 .840

WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.



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