after losing to the Wildcats five weeks ago. So the regular-season series is tied 1-1. Meantime, Oregon has beaten Arizona at home and lost to UCLA on the road. So, yeah, the Pac-12 looks like a conference with three legitimate national title contenders that don’t seem much different from each other.
That’s my view of the league, at least.
I love Oregon, UCLA and Arizona. But I can’t definitely tell you which is better than the others. I have an opinion, I guess. I’d rank them UCLA, Oregon and Arizona, in that order. But all three are in my top 10 and mostly interchangeable. And you could reasonably pick any of them, or all of them, to make the Final Four.
Will I do it?
Probably not -- if only because I also think really highly of Gonzaga, Kansas, Villanova and North Carolina. And because I could also see any of those teams making the Final Four based on projected matchups. But I’d take the top three of the Pac-12 over the top three of any other league. That’s the point I’m trying to make.
And Lonzo Ball is the reason I’m trying to make that point now.
UCLA’s freshman point guard only took 10 of the Bruins’ 64 shots at Arizona. But he still finished with 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds while proving to be the difference between UCLA being just OK and UCLA being great. Sure, his father, the constantly quotable LaVar Ball, says wild things every once in a while. But his father has been, to date, closer to right than wrong. He’s forever told anybody who would listen and write it down that his oldest son is special and capable of making the Bruins contenders for every trophy available. Does anybody doubt him now?
And I can’t wait to watch the rest of this season unfold.
UCLA has a chance to become the first team in college basketball history to lead the nation in 2-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage. The Bruins are second in the former and third in the latter at this moment. They have future NBA players at at least three different positions. They’re guarding better. They’re legit.
So take UCLA to make the Final Four.
Or take Arizona. Or Oregon.
Or take all three.
You cannot overstate the possibilities for the Pac-12’s top three teams. All three are great and capable of beating each other -- or anybody else in the entire country.