Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Courtside Conversations with Paul Johnson
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: June 22, 2004
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Paul Johnson is employed by the UA as the women's basketball play-by-play announcer. He has 20 years of sports broadcasting experience, including the last six years as the voice of Arizona women's basketball. Every Wildcat women's basketball game this year will be broadcast live on KJLL 1330 AM, with Paul calling all the action.

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It is time to be exposed. It is time to make a fool of myself. It is time to make predictions involving the Pac-10 Tournament. I now will proceed to put my neck on the line so that, very soon, I could be eating major crow! Unless of course, I am right and you never know, after all, the Patriots did win the Super Bowl!

Currently, Pac-10 teams are playing for seeding in the Pac-10 Tournament. There is truly a "Cardinal" rule entering this event. That rule simply can be described as "don't play Stanford!" So, here is how I see the teams finishing and how I see the tournament shaking out.

It is only February, but Stanford has the number-one seed wrapped up. Their remaining schedule (at Oregon schools, Washington schools, at L.A. schools) offers all winnable games. So, Stanford will enter as the top seed.

Arizona State put itself in position for the number-two seed by sweeping the Oregon schools last weekend. The Sun Devils are all by themselves in second place and will win the vast majority of their games (at Washington schools, L.A. schools, at Arizona) down the stretch. Washington, who currently sits third in the conference, will stay there. The Huskies have a favorable schedule (Arizona schools, at Bay Area schools, Oregon schools) remaining and should be able to finish third in a weak conference.

Oregon State will grab the fourth seed. The Beavers currently sit just a half-game out of third place and could finish strong (Bay Area schools, Oregon, at Washington schools). With Felicia Ragland on your side, you can always reel off a few victories.

This is where things get very interesting. Despite starting 1-4 in the Pac-10, the Wildcats will finish fifth in the conference. Arizona's schedule (at Washington schools, L.A. schools, ASU) is difficult, but the team is playing very well. The Cats have won 6 of their last 8 games and could be a very dangerous tournament team.

Disappointing USC will finish sixth. The Trojans, a favorite to win the conference title, are currently 8-5 but, after UCLA, face Arizona, Arizona State, and Stanford before finishing against California. They could very well lose three of those games.

The seven through ten seeds will play first. Oregon (remaining schedule of Stanford, Cal, at OSU, at Washington schools) will play tenth seed Washington State, and eighth seed UCLA will play number nine Cal.

Now, here is how the tournament will finish. Get ready to make fun of me now, because the odds of all of this happening....are the odds that Mike Tyson will stay out of jail in this decade!

    #7 Oregon vs. #10 Washington State = Oregon wins.
    #8 UCLA vs. #9 California = UCLA wins.
    #1 Stanford vs. #8 UCLA = Stanford wins.
    #2 Arizona State vs. #7 Oregon = Oregon stuns ASU at home.
    #3 Washington vs. #6 USC = Washington wins.
    #4 Oregon State vs. #5 Arizona = Arizona wins.
    #7 Oregon vs. #3 Washington = Oregon stuns Washington at home.
    #1 Stanford vs. #5 Arizona = Arizona wins...O.K. I am an optimist!
    #7 Oregon vs. #5 Arizona = Oregon stuns the Cats at home. Oregon wins!

So, to the NCAA tournament goes Stanford, ASU and Oregon. NIT bids are offered to Arizona, Oregon State, Washington, and USC.

So, there it is -- the hopeful meandering of a radio broadcaster. However, maybe this could actually happen. Stanford on a neutral court is not unbeatable, and Oregon at home can be dangerous. And before you laugh too hard, remember that Bill Clinton was booed in New Orleans. Anything is possible!

See you on the radio!
Paul Johnson

? Thursday = Arizona at Washington, 7:30 p.m., 1330AM
? Saturday = Arizona at Washington State, 1:30 p.m., 1330AM

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