Pick a storyline, any storyline for tonight’s Arizona-Washington showdown.
- The Pac-10’s two best teams? Check.
- The two best players? Check*.
- Renewing a once-budding rivalry? Check.
- National attention? Check. Now, if only the game weren’t on FOX Sports Northwest so more people could watch. Ah, no worries. There’s plenty to love anyway. The rest of the country can catch the highlights.
Anyway, the Huskies (13-4 overall, 5-1 in Pac-10 play) play host to Sean Miller’s Wildcats (15-3, 4-1), the team that’s best suited to challenge Washington’s league dominance this season and in upcoming seasons. As UCLA falters, Stanford and Cal rebuild and Washington State runs, but stays mired in the middle, league bragging rights will focus on these two teams for the foreseeable future.
And the game should be delightful.
“It’s going to be crazy man,” Washington guard Isaiah Thomas told the Seattle Times. “I picture this game being like the one when Nate Robinson got the alley-oop against Arizona. I remember back then it was standing-room only.
“It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait. It’s a big game. We haven’t really had a huge game like this at home this year. I’m waiting for what the fans got. Waiting for what we’re going to bring out. It should be a good one.”
Thomas and Arizona forward Derrick Williams will be the main attractions, and with good reason. Thomas is coming off the best game of his career, a 27-point, 13-assist clinic against Cal. Miller’s already made perfunctory “we have to stop Thomas” remarks.
Williams leads the Wildcats in scoring (19.7 points), rebounds (7.3) and nearly every other category. UW coach Lorenzo Romar’s already made perfunctory “we have to stop Williams” remarks
Beyond that, Arizona’s approaching this game like it’s their biggest of the season. And maybe it is. The Wildcats travel to Pullman this weekend, then have the L.A. schools next week. Going 0-4 in that stretch isn’t likely, but not inconceivable. If that happens, their NCAA tournament hopes may very well vanish.
“I think this is the series that makes or breaks us,” sophomore forward Solomon Hill told the Tucson Citizen. “This really shows who we are, where we stand in the Pac-10.”
There you go. Star players, good teams, lots of hype. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.
*Yes, Washington State fans, this does discount Klay Thompson. Sorry about that. Right now, Pac-10 player of the year is a three-horse race, and Thompson’s right in the middle. But in the end, it’ll be between Thomas and Williams.
Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.