With a 13-1 record in conference play, the Washington Huskies (22-5 overall) have secured at least a share of the regular-season conference title in Pacific-12 Conference men’s basketball.
The Arizona State Sun Devils (19-8), who beat the Huskies in Tempe, could tie Washington while holding the tiebreaker for seeding in the conference tournament, but that scenario would require a complete collapse by the best team in the league so far this year.
The Conference of (real NCAA) Champions has an outside shot at landing three teams in the NCAA Tournament, depending on how strong the Oregon State Beavers (17-9) finish out the season. They are in third place, four games behind the Huskies. Every other team in the league probably needs to win the Pac-12 Tournament to punch a ticket to March Madness.
By the way, time is wastin’ away: That conference championship tournament is in Las Vegas again, and you can get your tickets here for March 13-16.
Weekly Pac-12 Rankings
Not much change this week despite some interesting results. There is such a glut of teams in the middle of the conference, with just 3.5 games separating second place from tenth place, it makes it hard to move up or down this late in the season.
Here are the updated rankings, with last week’s position noted after the current record.
1. Washington Huskies (22-5, 1): Holding the Mountain schools to a combined 100 points in two home victories, the Huskies made clear they are the best team in this conference by a big margin. The biggest issue Washington faces is a lack of marquee wins, even though the team has no bad losses, either.
2. Arizona State Sun Devils (19-8, 3): The Sun Devils took care of business with a home sweep of the Bay Area schools, winning two games by a combined 28 points. ASU needs to play consistent ball down the stretch here to work on improving its potential NCAA seeding position. The team wants to avoid a play-in game spot, for sure.
3. Oregon Ducks (15-12, 2): With just a 7-9 mark since December 21, the Ducks are still hanging around here, thanks to that strong 8-3 start to the season when Bol Bol was healthy and playing. But Oregon has lost three in a row now, and there is a good chance the Ducks will lose three of their final four games.
4. Colorado Buffaloes (16-11, 4): Falling flat on their faces, clearly caught looking ahead, the Buffs lost in Pullman to the Cougars on Wednesday. Then Colorado proceeded to score just 55 points in Seattle against the Huskies. Just like that, a five-game win streak turned into a two-game slide. That is on the coaching staff, for sure.
5. Oregon State Beavers (17-9, 5): After trailing all game, the Beavers took the lead late in the game against UCLA on the road, only to watch victory slip through their fingers in yet another close loss. The Bruins went to the free-throw line 25 (!) more times than Oregon State. Ouch. That’s six losses this year by six points or less for the Beavers now.
6. Arizona Wildcats (16-12, 6): Well, as expected, the Wildcats broke their seven-game losing streak with a win over California, but then they followed it up with an impressive victory over Stanford as well. A road trip to Oregon and Oregon State looms, followed by the season finale at home against the Sun Devils. The Wildcats aren’t dead yet.
7. USC Trojans (15-13, 7): The Trojans posted an impressive win over the Ducks by 17 points on Thursday, only to turn around and lose to the Beavers on Saturday. USC’s final three games are on the road—at UCLA, at Utah, and at Colorado. Getting a sweep of the Bruins would be nice for the Trojans in this otherwise-unremarkable season.
8. UCLA Bruins (15-13, 8): Pulling off a home sweep against the Oregon schools is what the Bruins needed, for sure. After the home date against USC on Thursday, UCLA also travels to the Mountain schools to close out the regular-season schedule. If the Bruins lose all three, they’re looking at a losing season, the second one in four years.
9. Stanford Cardinal (14-13, 9): So much for momentum. The Cardinal had somehow won five of six before heading to Arizona last weekend and dropping both games by an average of 17 points each. It is like the Stanford team didn’t even show up, really. The upside is that the Cardinal finish with three home games, albeit one against the Huskies.
10. Utah Utes (15-12, 10): Clinging to fourth place in the conference with a 9-6 league mark, the Utes held serve this past weekend, dropping an ugly game in Seattle and winning in Pullman. Utah has a chance to sweep Colorado this week, and then the Utes finish at home with the L.A. schools.
11. Washington State Cougars (11-16, 11): The Cougars’ hot, four-game stretch of excellent play came to an end with the home loss to the Utes on Saturday. WSU has a road trip to the Bay Area this week, followed by a home set against the Oregon schools to end the season. How many of those games can the Cougs win?
12. California Golden Bears (5-22, 12): Sixteen straight losses might end up being twenty straight by the end of the season. WSU’s recent play suggests that the Golden Bears won’t even be able to win that game at home this week. The good news is that eight of the team’s nine best players are either freshmen or sophomores. Wait ’til next year!
What to Watch For Next
The Huskies will clinch the outright regular-season title Thursday night in Berkeley. Golden Bear resistance is futile. But the highlight of the week is the Arizona-Oregon battles between the schools trying to either make an NCAA push or save their seasons. Can the Beavers and the Sun Devils deliver?
Fearless Prediction(s) of the Week
Look for Oregon State to sweep the Arizona schools, while ASU gets its 20th victory of the season over the Ducks on Thursday night.
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