College Basketball Nation: Pac-12

1. As the NCAA continues to get hammered for its archaic legislation, remember the NCAA is a membership. And over the years, the membership, as in the conferences and its commissioners, athletic directors and faculty reps, have continued to push for legislation that is selfish and self-serving. Four years ago, the then-Pac-10 had a piece of legislation to forbid foreign trips. The rationale was because it gave some schools an advantage going into the season. That's true, and it should be rewarded. The good news then and now is that the person who was leading the charge -- Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen -- retired. His replacement, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, is pushing for more foreign travel and looking for yearly trips to Asia for his teams. UCLA went to China in 2012, while Arizona State made that journey this summer. These trips occur every four years, and if a school can fund the excursion, it will go from Syracuse to Towson and every school in between. The foreign trip is a huge benefit to new coaches and players seeking more time on the court. It gives them a great chance to bond. There is absolutely nothing bad about going on a foreign trip, practicing for 10 days prior and actually enjoying the experience of being together.

2. Injuries can and do occur on these trips. USC's season was altered two years ago when Jio Fontan suffered a season-ending ACL injury on a trip to Brazil. Roosevelt Jones tore his wrist ligaments on Butler's trip to Australia last week. Butler at least has plenty of time to adjust to the absence of Jones. The Bulldogs are going through a transition period with its move to the new Big East and a new regime led by Brandon Miller. It's not a one-year deal like the A-10. This is its new home, and Butler has time to become a player in the league. Expect the new Big East to have teams take their turn atop the conference -- maybe more so -- than any other league. No one should be shocked if each season a different team is tabbed as a favorite. The balance should be strong from 1-8 to start and eventually to 10 if DePaul and Seton Hall can carry its own.

3. The NCAA still hasn't reviewed the case for whether or not Oregon's Joseph Young, a transfer from Houston, should be granted immediate eligibility. This is yet another example of how overloaded the home office is when it comes to waivers. There should be divisions that just deal with certain sports. But winter sports get backed up behind the fall sports. So, a team that is expecting a huge addition from a new player may not know for a while, while a volleyball or soccer player is getting his or her eligibility reviewed. Oregon has options with Damyean Dotson playing the wing instead of Young. But if Young is eligible, the Ducks can play both together and have one of the top producing backcourts in the West.

Video: Katz on Ed Rush's resignation

April, 4, 2013

Andy Katz with the latest on Ed Rush resigning as the Pac-12's coordinator of men's basketball officiating.
LOS ANGELES -- Shabazz Muhammad was made for moments like these. Unfortunately for UCLA fans, Muhammad's days in a UCLA Bruins jersey appear to be coming to a close.

With his Bruins beginning to show signs of wilting down the stretch against the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion, Muhammad came to the rescue like a superhero swooping in to save the day.

He scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the second half and eight of UCLA’s final 15 points, including the final five. With nine seconds left and UCLA’s once 14-point lead down to three, he went strong to the glass and grabbed a rebound with all of his muscle after Arizona’s Mark Lyons missed a shot.

He then drained a pair of free throws to seal the victory in what Bruins coach Ben Howland said was Muhammad’s last game at Pauley Pavilion. If it was, what a performance he put on.

“I think the thing that makes him who he is is how competitive he is,” Howland said. “That’s what makes the great ones great. They want to do everything they can to make their team win.”

Muhammad did plenty of those things Saturday night, rising to the occasion of the bright lights of a nationally televised game. And in a heated contest between the Pac-12’s most storied teams, Muhammad wrote a page for himself.

He made a basket and a free throw to put UCLA up 52-38 with 15:25 to play before Arizona began to make a run. Four Arizona 3-point baskets over the next 4½ minutes trimmed UCLA’s lead to 59-53, and a free throw with 9:04 left to play made it 59-54. Then, Muhammad started coming up with big plays.

He smoothly stroked a 3-pointer to put UCLA back up by eight. Arizona made another run, cutting UCLA’s lead to 70-66 on a 3-pointer by Grant Jerrett. Muhammad immediately streaked down the floor for a layup that put UCLA up, 72-66.

Another Jerrett 3-pointer cut the lead to a one possession game with 1:07 to play, and after forcing a UCLA shot-clock violation, the Wildcats came down the floor looking to pull off a miracle. Mark Lyons drove to the basket and put up a floater, but it clanked off the rim. Muhammad rose with a primal scream and muscled the ball into his possession to clinch a victory the UCLA.

“I just want to win so bad. I just tried to grab the rebound,” Muhammad said. “I didn’t care who was right there and just tried to grab it and hold it tight.”

It was a nice exclamation point on a season that started low for Muhammad and hit some bumps along the way but slowly and steadily got better and better. Muhammad came to UCLA as a heavily hyped freshman but began the season on the bench as the NCAA investigated his eligibility.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: UCLA 74, Arizona 69

March, 2, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- The UCLA Bruins completed a season sweep of the Arizona Wildcats -- the first for either team in the series since UCLA won both in 2008 -- with a 74-69 victory Saturday at a sold-out Pauley Pavilion. A quick look:

How it happened: Grant Jerrett made consecutive 3-point baskets that got the Wildcats (23-6, 11-6 Pac-12) to within three points at 72-69 with 1:07 to play. But Shabazz Muhammad grabbed a strong rebound with nine seconds to play, then made two free throws to seal the victory for UCLA (22-7, 12-4).

In a game of runs, UCLA had the game's longest, scoring 12 consecutive points in the second half to take a 52-38 lead. They were up 55-41 with 14:26 to play. The Wildcats then responded. They cut the lead to 59-54 before Muhammad stopped the bleeding for UCLA with a 3-pointer that gave the Bruins a 62-54 lead with 8:50 to play. The Wildcats did not get closer than six points until Jerrett's 3-pointer with 1:34 to go.

UCLA had several opportunities to take control of the game in the first half, but the Wildcats kept coming back. UCLA led 13-6, then Arizona tied it at 13-13. The game also was knotted at 29 and 34, but the Wildcats could never take the lead. The Bruins got a layup at the halftime buzzer from Larry Drew II to put UCLA up 40-36.

Muhammad finished with a game-high 18 points, Kyle Anderson had 17 points and seven rebounds and Drew II had 14 points and nine assists. Jerrett led the Wildcats with 14 points and made four of five 3-point attempts.

Player of the game: Muhammad, playing on a sprained ankle, scored UCLA's final five points and eight of their last 15. His clutch one-handed rebound with nine seconds left was something to behold.

What it means: UCLA remains in control of its own destiny in the race for the Pac-12 regular-season title. The Bruins are tied with Oregon for first place and would claim at least a share of the title with wins at Washington State and Washington next week. Saturday’s victory likely locks up an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament for the Bruins, who missed the tournament last season.

Despite the defeat, Arizona seems to be pretty safe as far as the NCAA tournament goes, but the Wildcats have been officially eliminated from the Pac-12 regular-season race and can’t be feeling good with a 3-4 record over the past seven games.

What’s next: UCLA heads to the Northwest to finish the regular season with visits to the Cougars and Huskies. The Bruins play Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Pullman. Arizona is off until next Saturday at 2:30, when the Wildcats play the in-state rival Arizona State Sun Devils to finish the regular season.

Loss shows UCLA still hasn't arrived

January, 19, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- The loss will set the UCLA Bruins only one game back in the Pac-12 standings, but it did quite a bit more damage in the court of public opinion.

The No. 24 Bruins lost to the No. 21 Oregon Ducks 76-67 on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, ending UCLA’s win streak at 10 games and exposing the Bruins as a work in progress.

Only minutes after the 10-game win streak ended it became clear that it had been mostly a mirage padded with victories over teams that would need a boost to enter the world of mediocrity. Even UCLA victim Missouri, an 83-52 loser to Florida on Saturday, seems like a marginal team after losing two of its last three.

The convincing victory by Oregon (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12), a team that has established itself as a legitimate top-25 team with victories over the Arizona Wildcats and UNLV Rebels, shows that Bruins (15-4, 5-1) still have room to grow if they are to re-join the national elite as they so desperately desire.

“After a loss like this it really takes us back to the drawing board,” said guard Norman Powell. “Come back to practice and work on the things that we need to work on.”

Losing to Oregon in itself isn’t the end of the world. But when you remember that this is the same UCLA team that was capable of losing to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo back in November -- and factor in this was a statement game on its home court -- it becomes clear why this loss is so damaging.

There seems to have been a wait-and-see approach with the Bruins since that Cal Poly loss. And even after defeating Missouri and winning back-to-back games to open conference play to extend their win streak to seven, the Bruins couldn’t crack the national rankings.

[+] EnlargeTravis Wear
Richard Mackson/USA TODAY SportsTravis Wear, right, said the Bruins need to get more physical, particularly when it comes to rebounding.
Only after sweeping a road trip at Utah and Colorado last week did the Bruins re-enter the national polls. And they needed to validate their ranking with a win over Oregon. The failure to do so means voters were right to be skeptical.

“It really hurts,” center Travis Wear said. “This one after having that win streak going and playing so well, to come out and lose a tough conference game to a ranked team ... we really wanted this one.”

If the Bruins are going to stay in the Pac-12 title race and get back on the road to national elite status, they will have to figure out a way to overcome their rebounding deficiencies. Oregon outrebounded UCLA 40-31, marking the sixth time in the last seven games UCLA has been outdone on the boards. The Ducks had 13 offensive rebounds -- 10 in the first half -- and scored 12 second-chance points.

“You talk about what has our Achilles’ heel has been for us and what concerns me most, No. 1 is rebounding,” coach Ben Howland said. “Today we got outboarded by nine. They’re physical, they’re strong. It’s my fault. We obviously haven’t done a good enough job of teaching block-outs.”

UCLA’s biggest issue is that it doesn’t have a true center. Kyle Anderson, a 6-foot-9 swingman who considers himself a point guard, is far and away the teams’ leading rebounder at 9.1 per game. Wear, who starts at center, is generously listed at 6-10 but is more of a finesse jump-shooter than a physical center who can mix it up in the paint. He’s second on the team with 5.9 rebounds per game.

“I think that we have to box out and seek the ball rather than just boxing out and hope someone else is going to get it,” Wear said. “Actively seek the ball off the rim. Go get it; don’t let it come to you. We’ll work on it this week in practice. Rebounding is just an effort thing.”

It’s not going to get any easier. UCLA’s next game is at No. 7 Arizona, which leads the conference in rebounding margin. Not only that, it marks gut-check time for the Bruins.

A bounce-back victory in a difficult environment will show that the Bruins still have the chops to make some noise in the conference and perhaps in the NCAA tournament come March. A loss and the Bruins will be dismissed as also-rans in a conference that isn’t all that great to begin with.

“It’s how you bounce back,” Howland said. “We’re going into what is arguably the toughest road trip of the league based on the records of our next two opponents. This will be a real good test for us, and we’re going to work real hard to prepare.”

Powell hinted that this next trip would be a crossroads trip for the Bruins. He said the Bruins may have become a little too enamored with their 10-game win streak and forgotten how difficult a test Oregon would be.

“We all knew it was going to be a big game,” he said. “It’s just about coming in with that mentality. We can’t get too big-headed about our win streak and come in there and just think this team was going to lay over and give us the win.”

The key to re-establishing themselves among the conference elite, Powell said, would be to go to Arizona and show that losing to Oregon was the exception, not the norm.

“We have to just play as a team, play as one since we’re on the road and do everything we need to do to win,” he said. “It takes true character of the team to come back on this road trip and get these two wins that we need.”

Rapid Reaction: Oregon 76, UCLA 67

January, 19, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- The No. 21 Oregon Ducks pulled away late and defeated the No. 24 UCLA Bruins 76-67 on Saturday to maintain a share of first place in the Pac-12 at Pauley Pavilion. It was the first matchup between ranked Pac-12 teams since 2009.

Here's a quick breakdown:

How it happened: In a game that had been back and forth the entire way, Oregon went on an 8-0 run and opened a 70-61 lead with just more than a minute to play, then made 6 of 9 free throws down the stretch to hang on and end UCLA's 10-game win streak. It was the seventh consecutive victory for the Ducks (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12).

Neither team led by more than six points through the first 36 minutes of the game, but the Bruins -- using a seven-man rotation -- clearly tired in the waning minutes. UCLA (15-4, 5-1) led 46-41, then went on a scoreless stretch of 5 minutes, 17 seconds. Oregon led 49-46 with 11:22 to play and did not relinquish the lead after that.

UCLA trailed 32-28 with 5:42 left in the first half but held Oregon to only two field goals the rest of the half. One of those was a 3-pointer by E.J. Singler at the halftime buzzer that cut a 40-34 UCLA lead -- the biggest of the game for the Bruins – to three points as the team retired to the locker rooms.

Tony Woods led Oregon with 18 points and Dominic Artis had 14. Travis Wear had 17 for UCLA and Norman Powell added 11. Shabazz Muhammad, benched to start the game because he was late for practice on Friday, had 10 points. Kyle Anderson notched his sixth double-double of the season, with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Player of the game: Woods scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, including dunks on back-to-back possessions that gave the Ducks a 70-61 lead with 1:07 to play.

Stat of the game: UCLA, the conference leader in field goal percentage at 47.7 percent entering the game, shot only 37.9 percent in the second half. (The Bruins shot 55.2 percent in the first half.)

What it means: Oregon, with victories over Arizona and UCLA, is now the early favorite to win the Pac-12 title. UCLA must rebound at Arizona and Arizona State next week to remain in the conference title race.

What’s next: UCLA heads to Tucson for a 6 p.m. showdown with the No. 7 Arizona Wildcats on Thursday. Oregon has a Wednesday home game against the Washington State Cougars.

Muhammad answers challenge for UCLA

January, 5, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- Want to see Shabazz Muhammad do something? Tell him he can’t.

That seems to be the modus operandi lately for Muhammad, who this week has delivered resounding responses when challenged about perceived weaknesses in his game.

Muhammad, the UCLA Bruins’ star freshman and leading scorer, did it on the glass Saturday when he tied a season high with 10 rebounds in a 68-60 victory over the Stanford Cardinal in a Pac-12 game at Pauley Pavilion.

That performance came a day after coach Ben Howland said Muhammad needed to improve in rebounding, especially on the defensive end. Muhammad had a season-high seven defensive rebounds Saturday despite matching up against Stanford’s Josh Huestis, who is among the top rebounders in the conference.

Last week, Howland said Muhammad needed to play better on the defensive end. Muhammad responded with his most energized and effective defensive game of the season Thursday against California.

[+] EnlargeShabazz Muhammad
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsFreshman Shabazz Muhammad went for 23 points and 10 rebounds as UCLA improved to 12-3.
“I try to answer,” Muhammad said about getting challenged. “I’m such a competitive person with anything, and tonight I thought I did a really good job getting seven defensive rebounds.”

Muhammad is a budding star who came to UCLA primarily as a scorer. He certainly has proved to be that, using an array of offensive prowess to average 19.6 points per game for the season and 23.2 over the past six games.

He is shooting 49.1 percent from the field, including 48.6 percent (17-for-35) on 3-pointers. He has scored in double figures in every game he has played this season and has emerged as a clutch shooter by making big shots down the stretch in recent games.

Because of those skills, Muhammad has been projected as a one-and-done college player who will be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA draft. But to succeed at the next level, Muhammad realizes he needs to become a more complete player.

He said he came to UCLA to play for Howland for that reason ... and that’s exactly what is happening. He acknowledges he never had to work hard to be better than everyone else at the high school level and that Howland has pushed him.

“It’s a whole different area,” he said. “The guys in college are bigger and stronger.”

Howland apparently knows the right buttons to push. Earlier this week, Muhammad said he read in the paper that he couldn’t play defense. Against California, he shuffled his feet with vigor and rotated effectively to help ... and the man he was guarding most of the game, Richard Solomon, was 4-for-13 from the field.

So, after getting that squared away, Howland pointed out this week that Muhammad’s defensive rebounding needed improvement. Muhammad tallied 22 rebounds during the previous five games, but only five of them were on the defensive end.

“Shabazz has a tendency to leak out of there and not help his team rebound on defense like he is capable,” Howland said.

But on Saturday, Howland told Muhammad the Bruins couldn’t afford to have him leak out like that against Stanford. Huestis entered the game fifth in the Pac-12 with 9.1 rebounds per game and second in the conference with 3.6 offensive rebounds per game. Muhammad would be guarding Huestis.

“I really challenged him and said if you don’t block out, if you don’t do a good job, we’re going to lose,” Howland said.

Huestis got his rebounds, finishing with 10 total and three on the offensive glass. But if not for Muhammad reaching double figures in rebounds for only the second time this season and seven defensive rebounds -- more than he had in the previous six games combined -- Huestis would have been much more effective.

“I just had to keep Huestis off the glass and I thought I did a really good job of doing that,” Muhammad said. “I just tried to do what Coach said.”

The best part of the whole thing is that it didn’t affect Muhammad’s scoring. He had a game-high 23 points to go with his 10 rebounds and posted his second double-double of the season.

“He seems to respond to challenges pretty good,” Howland said.

Maybe for his next challenge, Howland should tell his star freshman he can’t lead UCLA to a Pac-12 title. Or a national title. Or stay in school another year.
In May 2011, the Big East turned down a TV broadcast rights deal from ESPN reportedly worth $11 million per school -- annually. Rights fees for conferences had been on the rise, and conference leaders were sure waiting for a better offer would pay off in a big way.

That was before the Big East lost Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC. Before TCU announced it was joining the Big 12 instead of officially becoming a Big East member. And before West Virginia left the conference to join TCU in the Big 12.

True, the Big East has since added Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU as full members, along with football-only members Boise State, San Diego State and Navy. But safety isn’t in numbers -- it’s in the revenue provided by the most lucrative TV deal possible.

Today’s announcement that CBS executive vice president Mike Aresco will become the commissioner of the conference confirms the Big East is making television a priority. Aresco has led programming for CBS since 1996, handling such negotiations as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the 15-year SEC contract.

(Read full post)

The Atlantic Coast Conference’s television contract extension with ESPN, announced Wednesday, is the first of three major conference deals expected to be finalized in the next few months.

The ACC contract was extended after the addition of new members Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh last September. The shifting of schools as part of conference realignment also led to changes in the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference that has those existing deals in play, too.

The ACC deal is worth $3.6 billion over the next 15 years, according to The Associated Press. That puts the ACC behind only the Big Ten and Pac-12 in terms of the average revenue per school, per year by one measure (viewing all current contracts divided between conferences’ 2012-13 membership.)

SportsBusiness Daily has reported the Big 12 has verbally agreed to a new contract with ESPN and FOX for its first-tier rights for $2.6 billion over 13 years. That would bring the per-year average for the Big 12 to $200 million and the per-school, per-year average to $20 million. The SEC is expected to reopen its contract talks with ESPN following the addition of the University of Missouri and Texas A&M.

ESPN had no comment on any of the deals, which vary in what slate of rights are included, but a spokesman did say that the network is in regular contact with its business partners.

With all of the shuffling and extensions, it can be hard to keep up. Here’s a listing, according to information from The Associated Press, SportsBusiness Daily, SportsBusiness Journal and Adweek, of where things stand now. The Big 12 extension is not included because it has not been finalized. Also, per-year averages and per-school, per-year averages are straight averages and do not take into account actual variances by year as stipulated in individual contracts.

(Read full post)

Pac-12, Conference USA rankings jump

February, 21, 2012
The Big Ten’s lead on the Big 12 has been cut in half and the ACC has moved securely ahead of the Mountain West in ESPN Stats and Information’s weekly college basketball rankings.
For a complete recap of how we rank the conferences, click here.

The computer portion of this week’s rankings is comprised entirely of the BPI, ESPN’s new College Basketball Power Index. The BPI team rating takes into account the game score, where the game was played, the pace of the game and whether any of the team’s top five players was missing. For a complete explanation on the College BPI, click here.

The two conferences that saw the biggest increase from the BPI are the Pac-12 and Conference USA. Neither conference has a team ranked in the Top 25 but their computer rankings increased over 15 points with our new process this week.

Wichita State
and Creighton each won on Saturday but the rest of the conference was just 2-5 in this past weekend’s BracketBusters. The Shockers are now ranked 19th in each of the Top 25 polls. However due to the improvement of the Pac-12 and Conference USA (largely because of the BPI) the Missouri Valley Conference dropped two spots from No. 8 to 10.

The Big 12 is now fewer than seven points behind the Big Ten for the top spot in the rankings. The Big 12’s computer ranking increased more than five points this week, and there are six Big 12 teams in the top 35 of the BPI, more than any other conference.

The ACC had a relatively stable week but was able to increase its lead over the Mountain West Conference for the five spot due to the MWC’s struggles. The Mountain West’s human bonus dropped in half from 11 percent to 5.5 percent, despite now having three teams ranked in the Top 25 polls.

UNLV and San Diego State were ranked in the top 15 in the human polls last week but after New Mexico beat each of them, they dropped roughly 10 spots. Though the Mountain West now has three teams ranked in each human poll, New Mexico is the highest ranked team at 18, which is why the conference’s human bonus has suffered.

Despite its win over Saint Mary’s on Saturday Murray State only improved a few spots in the human polls and the Ohio Valley Conference stayed in the No. 22 spot in the rankings.

3-point shot: Cincinnati finds itself

December, 26, 2011
1. Cincinnati was the worse offender during the on-court fight with Xavier on Dec. 10. Xavier’s postgame news conference performance was worse than the Bearcats'. And since the brawl, the Bearcats clearly have done more with less than the Musketeers. Yes, the competition was tougher for Xavier than Cincinnati, but the Bearcats seemed to have found themselves during the suspensions. Their offense is running smoother and been more productive. Meanwhile, Xavier was dysfunctional during a three-game losing streak (to Oral Roberts, Long Beach State and Hawaii) before it was snapped Sunday with a victory over Southern Illinois in Hawaii.

2. Virginia coach Tony Bennett has the Cavaliers playing their best basketball of the season. The Cavs swept a trip to the Northwest with victories over Oregon and Seattle. But then Bennett came home to two defections in K.T. Harrell and James Johnson. Bennett said the issues were playing time. If that’s it, then it’s another example of players not having any patience. The departures hurt the Cavs’ depth but it shouldn’t stop the momentum. UVa is off to its best start under Bennett at 10-1 and is clearly the third-best team in the ACC so far.

3. The Diamond Head Classic announced its 2012 field Sunday and it has one if not two teams that should be ranked when the tournament opens next year. Arizona and San Diego State are the two headline teams and may be the respective picks to win the Pac-12 and MWC, respectively, in 2012-13. Missouri Valley contender Indiana State, Miami (Fla.), Ole Miss, Texas Tech, San Francisco and Hawaii round out the field. Hawaii will represent the Big West in next year’s field. The Warriors are in the WAC this year, which allowed a Big West team — Long Beach State — to be in the 2011 field. But now Hawaii will be the one Big West rep in the tournament from 2012 forward.

Rapid Reax: Marquette 79, Washington 77

December, 7, 2011

Here’s a quick take on Marquette’s dramatic 79-77 victory over Washington in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

What it means: No. 11-ranked Marquette improves to 8-0 on the season. Trailing by a point with less than 10 seconds left in the game, Jae Crowder drained a 3-pointer from the right corner to provide the winning points.

Washington falls to 4-3 on the season, after Abdul Gaddy’s well-covered shot attempt from the right wing was way off the mark at the buzzer.

The skinny: Washington got out of the gate quickly, taking an early 11-2 lead and leading to a quick timeout by Marquette coach Buzz Williams. But the Golden Eagles fought back, finally taking their first lead of the game, 27-26, with just under six minutes left in the half. The game remained tight, with Marquette taking a 37-34 lead into the locker room at the break.

The second half of this game was a incredible seesaw battle, with 18 -- yes, 18! -- lead changes, and no team leading by more than five (and that was only after the first bucket after intermission). Terrence Ross hit a tough foul-line bank shot with 17 seconds left to give Washington a 77-76 lead, and then Crowder hit the winner 10 seconds later.

Star watch: Marquette senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom did not have a very good shooting night from the field (6-for-17), but still led the Golden Eagles with 23 points. Crowder chipped in 18.

For Washington, Ross led the way with 19 points, shooting 9-for-14 from the field. C.J. Wilcox added 15 points.

Number crunch: Obviously this was a very tight game -- they don’t get much tighter. Washington was plus-14 on the boards (46-32), including 18-11 on the offensive glass. But Marquette had a 19-5 advantage on made free throws. The Huskies were just 5-for-10 from the charity stripe.

What’s next: Marquette will host Green Bay on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. Washington will remain in New York City, playing No. 5 Duke at Madison Square Garden on Saturday at noon ET.

Video: The Experts preview the Pac-10

November, 10, 2010
ESPNU's round table of experts previews this season's Pac-10:



Pac-10 changes blend the old with the new

October, 21, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO -- Change can be scary, especially in the tradition-steeped Pac-10.

Consider that when the conference’s athletic directors met this month, USC’s Pat Haden reportedly told the group, “my alumni will kill me if we don’t play the Northern California schools.”

That issue, among others, was smoothed over and solved today. The Pac-10’s CEOs unanimously approved a North-South divisional alignment for football that splits up the Bay Area and Los Angeles schools, but also guarantees that the California teams will play every year.

No, schools from the Pacific Northwest won’t annually get to play in Los Angeles, where they seem to grow football players on palm trees. But the conference’s new championship game will be played at the home stadium of the team with the best overall conference record, meaning that L.A. might be a December destination anyway.

“I talked to one Oregon coach that said, ‘No problem. We plan on making the championship game every year,’ ” commissioner Larry Scott said.

In the end, the decisions ratified by the CEOs were a blend of the old with the new. Rivalries dating back to the 1930s were preserved despite a divisional split necessitated by expansion and the creation of a title game.

“The conference had been outstanding as a traditional conference,” said Arizona State president Michael Crow, who chairs the Pac-10’s CEO council. “Now we want to go beyond tradition. Not throw tradition out the door, but now how can you leverage tradition by advancing the conference in the new kinds of designs, new kinds of arrangements, new kinds of networks and contracts and so forth.

“Larry brings that skill set to the table, which is why we went out and found Larry and hired him.”

Scott praised the collegial way in which the presidents and chancellors participated in the give-and-take, and their schools are literally richer for it. The conference is now touting its more equal revenue-sharing plan, and new money could still be had if the league moves to create a television network.

Crow envisions that such a network would help spread the gospel of the Pac-10 academics by projecting, as he called it, “American success through championship behavior.”

“How do you tie national competitiveness and national athletic performance to academic performance and innovation?” he added.

The creation of a title game is just one more way the conference can show off its ability to make varsity as well as straight A’s.

“It promises to deliver a full house and have the energy, excitement and atmosphere befitting a major collegiate championship,” Scott said.

“If you would have told me a year ago when I met with you coming out of our CEO meeting that this conference would have expanded by two, started a football championship game and had this level of optimism, I would have been thrilled,” Scott added. “I feel like we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in a short period of time. We have a lot of momentum right now. I couldn’t be more pleased. I feel energized by where we’re going.”

Pac-10 will Asia?

June, 6, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO -- Can you say “Rose Bowl” in Mandarin?

While first-year commissioner Larry Scott has made headlines of late for his role in possible Pac-10 expansion, he also said Sunday that he hopes to market the conference both nationally and internationally.

“I think we’re going to be the first collegiate conference to really have an international marketing plan, which I do envision in the future will include broadcasts of our contests and games internationally as well as competitions,” Scott said. “You’ll see our student-athletes playing in an organized way in Asia.”

Details of this new marketing initiative among others are expected to be unveiled next month at the Pac-10 football coaches media event, which will be held in New York of all places.

Instead of the usual airport hotel in Los Angeles, this three-day bicoastal tour for the coaches will kick off July 27 -- quite possibly at a New York cocktail party, according to assistant commissioner Dave Hirsch -- and then head to ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Conn., before finishing up back at the picturesque Rose Bowl.

As if that’s not enough pizzazz, the Pac-10 now wants to push itself as an international brand as well.

“The West Coast is the gateway to the Pacific Rim,” Scott said. “We’ve got a lot of student-athletes that have Asian roots in particular. Some of our schools have a very high level of brand recognition over in Asia, and there’s a lot of interest in our schools from Asia.”

UCLA, for example, saw its gear become somewhat of a fashion trend recently in China. According to the Daily Bruin, the school made $285,000 in income in 2007 through international licensing in Asia.

And as players go, Cal has already put together promotions revolving around 7-foot-3 men’s basketball player Max Zhang, a native of China who has become a fan favorite in Berkeley.

It’s no surprise, of course, that Scott would have a global worldview. His previous job for six years was chairman and CEO of the WTA Tour, and he successfully showcased women’s tennis to different regions and markets worldwide through tour stops and a new television deal.

“I was brought in from outside of intercollegiate sports because we’ve got a leadership group that has a very bold vision for what the Pac-10 can be going forward,” Scott said. “That’s why I’m here.”