Weekend Preview: Pac-10 nosedive continues

I really don’t like beating a dead horse here, but it just keeps getting worse and worse each day for the Pac-10.

One coach from the league told me that if the non-conference slate were held a month later, the results would be different.

Sure, Oregon would be healthier, Cal would have Theo Robertson and Arizona would be older.

But the league would still struggle to win competitive non-conference contests.

One way to get a feel for the strength of a league is to try and figure out how many potential first-round picks it has. The top NBA Draft site out there (and one that actually watches players), in one man’s opinion, is DraftExpress.com — and it has just one player from the Pac-10 — UCLA guard Malcolm Lee — going in the first round.

I am an avid supporter of Lee, but I’m not convinced he’s a legitimate first-rounder if he came out after this season — especially with the lack of success the Bruins are having.

In comparison, it projects seven players from the ACC and Big 12, five from the Big East and four out of the SEC. DraftExpress only has a pair out of the Big Ten, but I still feel as though Manny Harris (who the web site has going in the second round) is a first-rounder.

Just think about this: The Pac-10’s most impressive resume victory thus far, nearly one month into the season, is Arizona State’s neutral-court victory over an LSU club that was without its starting point guard.


The league will have a shot to get some measure of respect this weekend. Maybe USC can win on the road against Georgia Tech or Washington State can knock off Kansas State.

Not too long ago, I would have jumped on a plane and gone out to the west coast to see UCLA battle Kansas.

But not this year.

CAN’T MISS: North Carolina, coming off an impressive win at home over Michigan State, will travel to Lexington on Saturday afternoon and face Kentucky in a matchup of two of the most storied programs in college basketball history. It’s also a game that will showcase some terrific young talent with Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins and UNC sophomore Ed Davis and freshman John Henson.

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UNDERCARD: Kansas at UCLA — The two teams I watched a few years back in the Elite Eight out in San Jose couldn’t be heading in more opposite directions. Kansas won a national title two years ago and the Jayhawks are the current No. 1 team in the land while UCLA has lost four games to non-BCS schools already and also saw one of their top players transfer out. I’m not sure how competitive it’ll be — but it will be interesting.

REAL DEAL?: St. John’s has jumped out to a 6-0 record and the Red Storm will travel down to Durham and face Duke Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Two years ago it was a complete blowout when Duke won by 30, but last season the Johnnies played it to single-digits. It’ll be interesting to see how the Blue Devils respond after the road loss to Wisconsin on Wednesday night.

IN-STATE BATTLE: The South Carolina Gamecocks will travel to Clemson, but will likely be without two starters — Dominique Archie (knee) and Mike Holmes (facial surgery). But Clemson is coming off one of the toughest losses of the Oliver Purnell tenure after watching a 23-point lead evaporate and turn into a loss against Illinois earlier in the week.

UPSET SPECIAL: I’m 3-for-3 so far this season and this weekend I’m going with a young Santa Clara club, one that is 4-3 so far this season, against undefeated and ranked UNLV. I like the Running Rebels, but feel that they are still a work in progress and can be beaten — especially on the road.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP: Colonial Conference league play gets going as a red-hot William & Mary team will face Larry Sanders and VCU — which is coming off a nice home win against Rhode Island.

DANGEROUS: Oklahoma State is coming off a bad loss to Tulsa and now gets an underrated Texas San Antonio team. Remember, UTSA coach Brooks Thompson starred at Oklahoma State back in the day and his team knocked off Iowa in the season-opener.

STAYING PERFECT: Miami is the lone ACC team without a blemish on its record and the Hurricanes were picked near the bottom of the conference. Frank Haith’s team has beaten South Carolina and Minnesota thus far and will travel to Boston College on Saturday afternoon with a chance to stay unbeaten.