West’s Best Bets: Duel in the Desert

In this installment of the West’s Best Bets, it is time to match-up the two largest universities in the Grand Canyon State of Arizona. Will it be the University of Arizona in Tucson with their dominant softball and basketball teams or Arizona State University in Tempe with their party first, study later approach? I will see if the stories are true and if the women are really as hot as I have heard.

As hard as it is to leave San Diego, I hit the I-8 and head due east to the dusty borderland town of Tucson, Arizona and the University of Arizona. After a little over five hours crossing the Sonora desert on my way to Tucson, I finally begin to see some life once I hit I-10 and realize I still have another hour before I arrive at my destination – the University of Arizona. Located a couple miles northeast of downtown Tucson, the University is in an older part of the city that could definitely use some renovation or at least a fresh coat of paint here and there. The University itself ranks No. 50 in the world and No. 37 nationally according to the Center for University World Rankings – let’s see how they stand up in my rankings:

Athletics Teams

The Amazing Lute Olson

  • Football – Bowl Record of 6-8-1, one shared Conference Title in the Pac-10 as well as two other shared titles in the WAC.
  • Men’s Basketball – 29 tournament appearances including 25 straight, 15 Sweet Sixteens, four Final Fours with two National Title Game appearances and one National Championship. They also have 25 regular season championships in three different conferences and four Pac-10 Tournament Championships.
  • Baseball – 37 Tournament appearances and 16 College World Series appearances and four National Championships including this past year. They have won six regular season Conference Championships.
  • Softball – 25 Tournament appearances (current streak) and 22 College World Series appearances in the past 23 years and eight National Championships. They have won 10 regular season Conference Championships.
  • 18 Total National Championships
  • Other National Championships (5) – Women’s Golf (2), Men’s Golf (1), Men’s Swimming & Diving (1), Women’s Swimming & Diving (1).

The University of Arizona has a rich tradition in certain sports namely softball going to 22 College World Series in 23 years and a current postseason streak of 25 years. Also impressive are the men’s basketball teams reaching the postseason for 25 consecutive years and 16 College World Series appearances for the baseball team as well as the reigning National Champion. Outside of those sports, there isn’t much of anything going on. Their football team has been mired in mediocrity from the onset and is the only current Pac-10 team that has yet to play in a Rose Bowl game. For this, I award the University of Arizona 22 out of a possible 30 points.

Women

The lovely Julia Peerenboom & Nicole Dewald

Let me just say this, this is the desert and it is hot here! The women from all over the country want to escape the cold or the rain and they all come to the desert to get their sun, fun and drink on. With so many beautiful women walking around the campus, it is hard to imagine how any guy gets any real “studying” done. It is definitely a fashion show on campus and I was thoroughly impressed – 24 out of 25 possible points.

Local Bars & Pubs

Like most small cities built around a major university, Tucson really doesn’t have much going for it outside of the college or downtown area. For a city that is so sprawled out without much a freeway system, if you are on campus without a car, you are S.O.L. Fortunately, the only good bars are close to campus so you aren’t missing out on much. The bars along Fourth Avenue are perfect for whatever ails you. From Tucson’s Oldest Bar, “The Buffet” named by Esquire magazine as one of the “Best Bars in America” to sports heaven bars O’Malley’s and Maloney’s, Tucson’s college bar scene is nice. – 17 out of 20 possible points.

Weather

At an elevation of 2,643 feet at the airport, Tucson is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains on three sides and portions of the city in the foothills of these mountains can reach up to 3,500 in elevation. Tucson summers are hot reaching into the 100’s but rarely reaching over 110. Winter nights in the city dip into the 30’s, but rarely below freezing. The aforementioned foothill areas receive snow in late December and January. The Spring and Fall are absolutely gorgeous with warm, sunny days and mild evenings–12 out of 15 possible points.

Tailgate – yes please

Academics

The University of Arizona currently enrolls just over 39,000 students including three medical schools and the only Medical Doctor granting program in the state of Arizona. They U of A is considered a selective school with the Honors program admitting students with a high school GPA of 3.83 and 86 National Merit Scholars bringing their total to 254. The M.I.S. program is ranked No.1, the Entrepreneurship program is ranked No.3 and the Pharmacy School is ranked No.10 by U.S. News & World Report – 8 out of 10 possible points.

FINAL GRADE 83%

With close proximity to the I-10 for easy escape from the “less than desirable” portion of Tucson, I head 90 miles due northwest to the Phoenix suburb of Tempe and Arizona State University. Located in the southeast portion of the “Valley of the Sun,” ASU is a school that had its fair share of notoriety as one of the top party schools in the country in the past. With a new President and culture change, can Arizona State shed its party image and become a respectable institution of higher learning or is it just a facade? With an enrollment of over 72,000 students over four campuses across the metropolitan Phoenix area, we are going to focus on the Main campus in Tempe with nearly 53,000 students. Let’s see how they match up with their in-state rival:

Athletics Teams

American Hero Pat Tillman

  • Football – Bowl Record of 12-12-1 with a Rose Bowl record of 1-1, and 17 Conference Championships; seven in the Border Conference, seven in the WAC and three in the Pac-10.
  • Baseball – 35 Tournament appearances and 22 College World Series appearances with five National Championships. They have accumulated 21 regular season championships, including four straight in the Pac-10 from 2007-2010.
  • Softball – 23 Tournament appearances and nine College World Series appearances including the last five with two National Championships. They also have two Conference Championships.
  • Men’s Basketball – 13 tournament appearances, advancing three times to the Elite Eight. They also have eight regular

    National Champion Anthony Robles

    season championships; four in the Border and four in the WAC.

  • 23 Total National Championships
  • Other National Championships (16) – Women’s Golf (7), Women’s Track & Field (3), Men’s Track & Field (2), Men’s Golf (2), Wrestling (1).

Arizona State University seems to be one of those bubble teams when it comes to athletics. They show flashes of brilliance in some areas but suffer from an inability to get over the hump when it comes to maintaining a solid presence in any sport. Notable ASU individual athletes are war hero and former football player, Pat Tillman, golfer Phil Mickelson and undefeated one-legged wrestling champion Anthony Robles. For their lack of consistency, I award ASU 22 out of a possible 30 points.

Women

ASU has the hottest women on campus that I have ever visited. Just think about every hot girl at every high school in every Podunk city across this great country of ours…and they all want to go to Arizona State. Wearing bikini tops and daisy dukes to class isn’t out of the ordinary, it is the status quo. With so many drop dead gorgeous women at this school, even normal, everyday beauties that would blow the minds at many other campuses get overlooked at ASU. Thank God for ASU and the bevy of beauties that grace the campus – 25 out of 25 possible points.

Why I Love ASU

Local Bars & Pubs

Bordering Phoenix to the south east, the city of Tempe caters to the college crowd with several great college hangouts along Mill Avenue, but there is also a wide range of bars, pubs and breweries within a stone’s throw from campus. If you are adventurous, there are literally a thousand other bars, pubs and hangouts a quick freeway ride away. The beautiful people get dressed up and hit Scottsdale, the hipsters head to downtown Phoenix, the music fans stay in Tempe or go to Chandler while the pro sports fans hit up the northwest wide where the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Coyotes call home. One thing is for sure, you are never going to get bored here – 19 out of 20 possible points.

Weather

Tempe and the rest of “the valley of the sun” is a true asphalt jungle in the middle of the desert. Many say that it is a shame having so much urban sprawl in the beauty of the desert and it only adds to the scorching summers. While I see the logic, Tempe is a beautiful city and the heat allows for flip-flops and t-shirts to be worn nearly year–round. With summertime highs hovering around the 110 mark, you don’t want to spend too much time outdoors. The winters are gorgeous with temps rarely, if ever getting below 40 degrees. – 11 out of 15 possible points.

Several nearby lakes fly the ASU Flag

Academics

Although acceptance to any of the public universities is ensured to residents in the Top 25 percent of their class; Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University is highly selective and is ranked first in the nation among peer institutions and 5th in Overall Excellence among all universities. The Honor College enrolls over 3,500 students including 613 National Merit Scholars. The Schools of Journalism, Business and Nursing are also ranked in the top in the country – 7 out of 10 possible points.

FINAL GRADE 84%

By the slimmest of margins, Arizona State University has eked out the victory. There are some areas that the U of A is better at but in general the city of Tucson just doesn’t have the things that Tempe and the Valley has to offer your typical college student. The women are gorgeous at both schools and the athletics and weather are relatively similar. I can surely bet that many more University of Arizona students travel to Tempe for fun and excitement than the other way around. Tucson as a college town is cool but limited, in Tempe – the world is your veritable oyster.

WINNER – ASU

The Student Section Celebrates

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