It's a pivotal weekend in Pac-10 men's basketball, as the Arizona schools are up in the Bay Area to do battle with league-leading (by half a game) Cal and a competitive Stanford Cardinal team.
Arizona State (9-5, 19-8) somehow finds themselves in a virtual tie for first with the Golden Bears, with four games left in the regular season.
It's an unlikely turn of events (even in a league universally seen as mediocre this year) in that the Sun Devils lost their two best players (James Harden and Jeff Pendergraf) to the NBA after last season.
The team still has senior point guard Derek Glasser (the fellow in the photo with mouth agape as he was about to hit a game-winning jumper last year). But media pundits picked ASU for seventh place before the season started.
After last Sunday's loss to ASU, the Arizona Wildcats (7-7, 13-13) need a sweep this weekend to even harbor a hope of winning the conference championship (the Cats also would have to beat the Southern California schools next weekend down in Tucson.
ASU plays at Stanford tonight, hoping that hot-shooting scofflaw Ty Abbott continues to put legal problems behind him
(Dude can't seem to pay his traffic tickets and doesn't seem to realize that auto insurance is mandatory in Arizona. Gives new meaning to the phrase three-pointer -- as in losing three points and more off your driving privileges).
Arizona plays this evening over in Berkeley, where Cal will attempt to exact revenge for a tough loss last month in Tucson -- a terrific game that we watched from start to finish.
Unlike the Sun Devils (no TV tonight, just tune in to KTAR-620 for the radio broadcast at 8), the Cats will be playing before a national audience on ESPN.
On Saturday, the two Arizona schools will switch places, with a potential monster of a game between the Devils and the Golden Bears set to tip off at 1 p.m. That one will be on TV, on Channel 34 (FSAZ).