Arizona Basketball

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.

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