ESPN analyst: Arizona, Pac-12 down but not out

Feb 1, 2012, 8:28 PM | Updated: 9:23 pm

Picking on the Pac-12 has been pretty popular this season,
as the conference has certainly struggled to pick up
signature wins against top-flight competition.

California is currently on top of the conference with a
(7-2) record, and traditional powers Washington, UCLA and
Arizona have all had their share of struggles.

ESPN NCAA Hoops analyst Jay Bilas, as a guest on Arizona
Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo, said the teams are not as
bad as many think.

“They’re not going to get just one team in,” he said of
the NCAA Tournament.

Bilas said both Cal and Washington should get in, and that
Arizona and Stanford are also in the discussion.

Still, the Pac-12 has its work cut out for it, and the
reason is simply because of a lack of talent throughout
the 12 teams.

“I do think that losing so many players to the NBA has
really hurt the league,” Bilas said. “If you look just at
the All-Conference team, everybody’s gone from that, and
all the underclassmen are gone. Just about every other
conference, their underclassmen came back that were all
conference players.”

That issue can be seen in Tucson with the Arizona
Wildcats, who are 14-8 (5-4) after losing two starters
from last year’s Elite 8 team when Derrick Williams
declared for the NBA Draft and Momo Jones transferred to
Iona. Their departures left Sean Miller with a good-but-
not-great team that has struggled in close games.

Bilas got a close look at the Wildcats last Saturday when
Arizona fell to Washington 69-67 in front of a soldout
McKale Center crowd, since he was on-hand as part of
ESPN’s NCAA College Gameday programming.

“They looked good, they’re just small,” he said of the
‘Cats. “They’re good and they played well in the game.”

Arizona, like many other teams in the Pac-12, has not been
bad, but has not been good, either. There’s still time
left in the regular season, but the conference’s struggles
could be an issue on selection Sunday.

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ESPN analyst: Arizona, Pac-12 down but not out