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Weekly Six Pac: Days Late and Dollars Short

Some spring practice notes and unexpected conference champs

UCLA v Gonzaga Photo by Shane Bevel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

1. UCLA men’s basketball as the Pac-12 favorite, or at worst, a co-favorite with Arizona. The Bruins met those high expectations and might have even exceeded them. They ran away with the Pac-12 regular season title, finishing four games ahead of Arizona and USC. They’re tracking to a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Perhaps most impressively, all five members of their starting lineup received at least some sort of honor in the Pac-12 conference awards. The only black cloud is the loss of Jaylen Clark. The defensive specialist injured his Achilles and will miss the rest of the season.

USC Trojans football team holds a spring practice session on Wednesday, Mar. 8, 2023. Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

2. Spring football practices have taken on a whole new function in the era of the transfer portal. Now, these practices are the first opportunity for incoming players, some who project as starters and key contributors, to acclimate to their new teammates and coaches. USC has transfer acclimation on the mind in the form of its offensive line. Despite a dominant offensive season, there was still room for improvement up front. The Trojans project to start transfers at two offensive line spots, so the spring practices will be a great chance to see how they stack up.

3. In very surprising news the WSU Cougars women’s basketball team won the Pac-12 tournament. The squad was historically non-competitive in the conference. Despite an elevated overall level of play from great programs like Stanford and Utah, the Cougs pulled off a series of upsets. Their path included wins over the Cardinal and Utes, plus two more wins over top-25 teams in UCLA and Colorado. Charlisse Leger-Walker has been the team’s star all year and she carried them to the win in the title game, as well.

4. Oregon not only has to replace Kenny Dillingham as a successful offensive coordinator, they also have to break in a new OL coach. They hired A’lique Terry for that role, a former GA for the Ducks who had the O-Line job at Hawaii. Addicted to Quack broke down the 2021 tape from that Hawaii team to get a better idea of how Terry coaches the position and what to expect next year.

5. For the last two years, it has looked very possible that Justin Wilcox might be on his way out at Cal. Instead, Wilcox remains in Berkley and the offense will look very different with a new QB and coaching staff. Wilcox spoke to the media after one of the team’s spring practices to give his impressions of that new offensive system and how TCU transfer Sam Jackson has looked so far.

6. Some Pac-12 haters make fun of the Conference of Champions moniker because so many national titles have come in sports like water polo. Well, let’s lean into that stereotype. Arizona State men’s swimming won its first ever Pac-12 Championship this week. The meet took place in Federal Way. Leon Marchand was the star of the team with three individual wins and four relay wins. Devils and water don’t instinctively go together, but perhaps this is the start of a beautiful friendship.