'World of parity'
The Arizona Wildcats are nowhere to be found on ESPN's Bracketology this week, and they are in only 14 of 22 NCAA tournament bracket projections compiled by the Bracket Project.
"And probably deservedly so," UA coach Sean Miller said.
However, the Wildcats are only at the halfway point of the season now, and Miller noted that they weren't a lock at this point last year, either (UA was 14-3 after two weeks of Pac-10 play last season).
"A lot can happen," Miller said. "We have to do what we're supposed to do - improve, practice the right way, win our home games, do really well, get on a win streak. All the things that postseason teams do.
"If we do that, I'm sure we'll be right there. If we don't do that, we're like everybody else. It's a world of parity in college basketball right now."
There's no telling yet if Oregon State will challenge seriously for the Pac-12 title, despite their 10-2 nonconference record, but we do know this: The Beavers are pretty entertaining to watch.
Even before the Beavers went quadruple-overtime last weekend against Stanford, there was the "kiss the sky" rebound dunk that Jared Cunningham threw down against Arizona last season, eventually earning Hoops Manifesto's "Dunk of the Year" award.
And there was the sight of bloodied guard Roberto Nelson on an Internet video last summer after making a dunk that shattered a backboard - and his face - in Macedonia. Nelson required 20 stitches.
"I barely touched it, and the whole thing just popped," Nelson said in a video taken afterward.
Nelson and several teammates were on a "Beavers Without Borders" humanitarian program which, for Nelson, may have proved more valuable - and less painful - than anything he did on the basketball court in the offseason.
"We value all of this materialistic stuff when those people have just enough to get by," Nelson told OSU's website. "It was crazy to be there and come back to America to see what we value."
Even when OSU began to fade in the second half of their Pac-10 tournament quarterfinal game with Arizona last season, the Beavers added a little spice.
With 10:25 to go, OSU big man Joe Burton knocked down UA's Kevin Parrom. Burton said Parrom instigated it; Parrom said he was "just being physical."
Whatever the case, Burton heard plenty from officials - who threw him out of the game - and from UA guard MoMo Jones, who ran over to offer what he called an "X-rated" complaint.
"Kevin is my boy; that's my teammate," Jones said after the game. "You stick up for what's in your circle. I didn't see the play, but I saw Kevin kind of rolling around, and I just had a few words with him."
Miller's brother flying high
Miller says he's happy for Dayton and brother Archie Miller, who is making a first-season splash with the Flyers, but that doesn't mean they always talk to each other.
That depends on the Wildcats' success.
"When I lose I never talk to him," Sean Miller said, smiling. "I only talk to him when things are going well."
The Flyers are 12-5 overall and 2-1 in the Atlantic 10 after losing 81-73 at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday. They won 87-77 at Temple on Saturday to break the Owls' 25-game homecourt winning streak.
Oregon is benefiting from three four-year transfers this season - guard Devoe Joseph (Minnesota), forward Olu Ashaolu (Louisiana Tech) and center Tony Woods (Wake Forest) - but they haven't been immune to the other side of the transfer trend.
Freshman guard Jabari Brown, a top-25 recruit out of Oakland, Calif., last season, transferred to Missouri after just two games with the Ducks.
"Guys used to know as freshmen that they kind of had to pay their dues," Oregon coach Dana Altman said, speaking in general about transfers. "Times have changed. Now there are one-and-dones, and because of that, every freshman wants to do that, and with a lot of teams, that just is not possible. They want to be the star right away, and if they're not, they look elsewhere."
UA, meanwhile, lost freshman Sidiki Johnson after he suited up for five games and played in just three.
Oregon State at Arizona, 6:30 p.m. today, Ch 58, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)
He said it …
"They're very explosive offensively. Starks has three threes a game, Cunningham is terrific, just an explosive scorer, and Joe Burton is really, really versatile. He can drive the ball. Brandt creates matchup problems because he can really shoot the three. Roberto Nelson would start for a lot of Pac-12 teams. They have aspects of the Princeton offense. The Princeton offense can be turned over to be quicker or slower. They have the green light, and they have the freedom in their offense. This year they're predominantly man-to-man, and their tempo has picked up."
Joe Pasternack, Arizona assistant coach who scouted the Beavers
Oregon at Arizona, 1:30 p.m. SAturday, Ch 13, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)
He said it …
"The hardest thing about their defense is that they keep you off balance because you always have to have the right attack against them. They keep you on your feet. They'll pressure you, can drop back into a man or zone. Conceptually, they want to speed you up as well. They force you to attack."
James Whitford, Arizona associate head coach who scouted the Ducks