Let’s face it -- while the Buffs have hit the hardwood in the PAC-12 and taken off immediately, we’re still dealing with unfamiliar surroundings. Now the Buffs have a huge game on Thursday night against the Arizona Wildcats. A win in Tucson could launch the Buffs into having a very legitimate chance at going to the Big Dance, but it won’t be easy. Arizona is likely to want revenge after CU beat them 64-63 at the Keg a few weeks ago. Since it’s such a big game, we at AllBuffs decided to sit down with Adam of PacHoops and get his opinion on his Wildcats and the PAC-12 in general. AllBuffs: First things first -- which Buff is Joe Pasternack going to attack? My money's on Askia Booker, but maybe Pasternack decides to change things up and go for a big man. Harris-Tunks? PacHoops: Have you seen Pasternack? The guy is like 5’8” 135lbs soaking wet, but he does have that scowl going for him. If it’s going to happen he’s got to get his money’s worth and so I’d put Shannon Sharpe on high alert. Should he take down the 6’1” 210lbs guard, Joe can strut around telling any and all he took down, well, Shannon Sharpe. AllBuffs: Everyone's talking about how Arizona has returned from the dead and is now a serious threat to win the conference. But looking back over their early "stumbles", were they as bad of losses as everyone made them out to be? Miss St and San Diego St weren't "good" losses, but both of those teams have been playing solid ball lately. Were we all just overreacting at the beginning of the season? PacHoops: I think the overreaction was in assuming Arizona’s program was fully rebuilt. Sure, that Elite Eight appearance was incredible, a run I’ll never forget. But it was exactly that: a run. Arizona was a pretty good team last year, by no means great, and definitely a rebuilding program. Sean Miller is well ahead of the curve and the world got wrapped up in that. Plus Derrick Williams’ are hard enough to come by, let alone replace. Toss in the hoopla of the recruiting class and the deification of highly rated recruits and you have the perfect overrated storm. The freshmen played like freshmen and if you’re turning the ball over at a 16/game clip, you’re going to struggle. Arizona averaged just 10 turnovers a game while in Northern California. The Buffs are kind of seeing the opposite effect with a departing star. Alec Burks was terrific, but I don’t need to tell you that. He helped blow the program up and everyone expected a letdown. Huge props to Tad. AllBuffs: You have to be thrilled with the team considering you just swept the Bay Area teams (easily the hardest road trip in the conference right now) this past weekend. Do you have Arizona as the favorites to win the PAC-12 tourney? PacHoops: Here’s my theory on tournaments: the most talented teams win. Not earth shattering stuff but look back at the last four Pac-10 tournament champs: UCLA (Westbrook & Love), USC (Derozan & Gibson), UW (Pondexter), UW (Thomas). Tourney champs and also having the highest drafted player. Yes, the ’11 UW title is a slight anomaly but bear in mind that Terrence Ross is insanely good and will be drafted higher than anyone on that AZ roster (Williams withstanding). So what’s my point? Washington has the most NBA bodies and is therefore my 2012 Pac-12 tourney favorites. That doesn’t mean I necessarily think they’re going to hold onto the regular season crown, but as for the tournament and the coveted auto-bid, UW. My tournament theory is also why I think the Big East – as a whole - is grossly overrated: 211 (P10) vs 207 (BE) NBA draft picks since 1980. Oh, and yeah, I was thrilled by the sweep. AllBuffs: One of the biggest problems facing Arizona the last time these two teams played was the lack of a "go-to" scorer. Has anyone stepped up into that position since then or is this a problem still plaguing the Wildcats? PacHoops: Wasn't that cool when Arizona just dribbled out those final thirty seconds in Boulder? This group has really struggled in the wake of Derrick Williams but few teams wouldn’t. That guy was the ultimate scapegoat without even going into how he wound up a Wildcat (if curious, Google “Tim Floyd handler cash” but you get the point). I don’t think anyone has truly stepped into that role and I don’t think anyone on this roster is capable of it. That said, I do think the whole can be greater than the parts but it hinges on the rapid progression of Josiah Turner. His skill set – a tremendous passer who can get into the lane at will – makes a lineup of combo-guards exponentially better. Hill, Fogg and Johsnon have complementary abilities but can’t take over regularly. And I’m just now realizing I’ve twice referenced Williams already. Think he meant something to this program? AllBuffs: Arizona couldn't win at altitude. Can the Buffs win at sea level? PacHoops: Absolutely. Granted, Tucson is a little more than 2300 feet above the deep blue but that’s semantics. The hard fact are that Buffs can play some defense and, for as fun as that Bay sweep was, the ‘Cats are rolling out a depleted lineup. Short Kevin Parrom for the season and likely Jordin Mayes for Thursday if not longer, Arizona’s looking at a seven-man rotation with an enigmatic point guard, heavy three-point reliance and a nominal low court presence. But they are playing some good ball. The Buffs – and I assume you’re well aware – are 2-4 away from the friendly confines. You guys are jonesing for a tourney bid so winning at non-altitude will be imperative down the stretch. AllBuffs: You went on record last week and predicted three tourney teams for the PAC-12. I think it's safe to assume you have Cal as a lock. Who gets the third spot though? I have to assume you like Arizona and Washington, but what about Oregon, Colorado and Stanford? Do they have a chance? PacHoops: Sure the homer in me is going to tell you Arizona is in but they have as much work as anyone you named. I think Cal and Washington are the “shoe-ins.” Arizona played the toughest non-conference slate but has had their share of slipups. Oregon I think is out considering their remaining road and I just don’t think Stanford is very good. This leaves us CU and Arizona, the two without miserable conference losses and with favorable schedules remaining. In Arizona’s case, I think they just need to handle their business especially with an “easy” final seven. The Buffs have a tougher schedule but that ultimately behooves them. Win a tough final seven and dance. AllBuffs: Considering we're new to the conference, I'm curious which is consistently worse -- the PAC-12's TV deal (prior to next season's PAC-12 Network) or their officials. Thoughts? PacHoops: Larry Scott is a genius self-promoter. The dude walked into this situation where he’s got five major media markets (LA, Phoenix, Seattle, SF, Denver) and he basically says, “I’m going to give you everything. Next year.” So now we’re all acutely aware of what we don’t get – 20% blackouts, non-HD, worse-than-amateur-hour commentators – so all we can talk about is how great what he’s bringing us will be. We have no choice but to love him. Touche, Mr. Scott. I can deal with hand checks at half-court so long as it’s called both ways. The stripes are winners when they’re consistent, good or bad. Also keep in mind, is a referee even bad if no one gets to scream about it at home? But let me just touch, one more time, on the TV deal. For all their faults, ESPN puts on a show. We watched AZ-CU last time on FSN and this time we’ll get it on the worldwide leader. Notice the production value. Sports, at the end of the day, are entertainment. Figure it out FSN. AllBuffs: Finally, as someone who's dealt with them for years, just how much DOES Arizona State actually suck? PacHoops: The most. Have you ever been hungover, swallowed fifteen multi-vitamins and a venti-coffee then taken a leak? You realize that’s their primary color. I have a visceral reaction to Sparky. Arizona’s been to more sweet-sixteens (15) than they have tournament appearances (13) and owns the all-time hoops and football head-to-head. What’s further pathetic is they want you to laugh at them: they posted this billboard, I know you’ve seen the Daily Show segment, their latest football coaching hunt, and both Kyle Williams and Billy Cundiff are graduates? They also extended Herb Sendek’s contract in the midst of A) that debacle of a search and B) their second straight season with a 3-4 start. It’s ultimately not worth your time. Hey, is CU gonna get a baseball team? We can’t thank Adam enough for his time. Make sure you check out PacHoops and follow him on Twitter where he will inevitably be verbally jousting with various members of AllBuffs.