There may be no easy buckets but there are some easy games.
Photo by Pat Shannahan/The Arizona Republic

I hope you loaded up on Thanksgiving protein because you’ve got your fan work cut out for you.

It’s game day x 2. Then tomorrow is game day again.

I don’t blame you if you’re focused on the Arizona Wildcats’ football game this evening. When the entire college sporting world is watching your favorite team play it’s kind of a big deal. The Oregon Ducks are trying to make history and the Cats are trying to stomp all over it.

But you’re going to have to do some multitasking this weekend. No matter what happens in Eugene life will go on for the Wildcat Universe. For the UA men’s basketball team it goes on quickly and in a big way.

The BasketCats take on Santa Clara in Las Vegas tonight at 8:30 Arizona time (live on KWBA), right after the football game. Then it’s a showdown with #4 Kansas, 8:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.

Don’t write this game off just because the turkey isn’t even cold yet. It’s not merely an early-season measuring stick game. The measurements from Saturday will go on the ’10-’11 Wildcats’ permanent record.

The game with the Jayhawks is a potentially big resume-boost for an Arizona team trying to get back into the NCAA tournament. That part is obvious. What’s different is this year’s UA resume is going to be short a few references.

The bad losses are already starting to pile up for the Pac-10. Oregon losing to San Jose State, OSU losing to Seattle and Texas Southern, Stanford losing to Murray State, and USC losing to Rider and Bradley (which could either be the name of a country group or a bad morning show).

It is already clear there won’t be a lot of quality wins available within Pac-10 play for the second straight year. That’s where the nonconference schedule comes in and, in a situation unfamiliar to Wildcat fans, this year’s schedule is on the light side.

Here’s a list of everyone the Cats will be facing before the start of Pac-10 action. For last year’s numbers I used the final RPI rankings and for this year we have the Pomeroy Ratings.

Team ’09-’10 ’10-’11
Idaho St. 309 326
New Mexico St. 56 197
No. Colorado 124 136
Bethune-Cookman 256 253
Santa Clara 238 128
Kansas 1 3
Rice 311 144
Oklahoma 128 111
Cal St. Fullerton 204 300
BYU 24 7
NAU 200 161
No. Carolina St. 88 38
Robert Morris 133 142

The bottom line is this is not a good schedule for a bubble team.

You’ll notice a lack of the usual slew of top-50 and top-100 RPI games. When Arizona has “stolen” a tournament bid from a small-conference team with 23 or 24 wins in recent years, strength of schedule has been the savior.

The tables could very well be turned this year.

It terms of resume-building it’s basically a three-game schedule: Kansas this Saturday in Vegas, at BYU Dec. 11, and at NC State Dec. 19. You really want to win at least one which will be tough with none of them at McKale.

So pace yourself, Cat fans. The football clash with Oregeddon is the day’s headliner but don’t forget to switch over and watch Sean Miller’s boys take on Santa Clara. Then you’ve got a short turnaround before one of the key basketball games of the year.

Is that enough red and blue excitement for you?

Better keep those Thanksgiving leftovers handy.