When we last checked in on Pacific-12 Conference men’s basketball, the league was holding its own as the fourth-best group in Division I—and not much has changed since then, in terms of that assessment.
The Conference of (real NCAA) Champions continues to hold that position in the NCAA hoops hierarchy, with six schools looking likely for March Madness right now: Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, Stanford, Arizona State, and Southern California. A seventh school with a losing overall record (Washington) slots into this group as a Top 68 team.
With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, here is how we see the conference’s championship sorting itself out:
- The Sun Devils have won seven straight and nine of their last 10 games. We’ve seen streaky ASU teams before, but until this squad loses again, they have to be the favorites to close out the Pac-12 season with the regular-season title. At 10-4 in conference play, the Sun Devils have four winnable games remaining (road games in Los Angeles this week, home games against the Washington schools to close out). Is ASU the best team in the conference? No. But it’s the team playing best right now.
- The Ducks should win their final three games to finish at 13-5 in conference play, all at home against teams Oregon rates better than on paper (Oregon State, California, Stanford). The Ducks lost the Civil War matchup in Corvallis, and so revenge is on the table back in Eugene this Thursday. Oregon also lost at Stanford this season, and the better team should win at home this time around. Cal is still … Cal.
- The Wildcats also take the L.A. tour this week, followed the same home set as ASU against the Washington schools to end the season. Arizona is, on paper, the best team in the league, so we see the Wildcats closing out the schedule to finish at 13-5 as well in conference play. Will it be enough? Only time will tell.
- The Buffaloes are the surprise team here, really, and with three road games left on their conference slate, the big matchup will be at Stanford on Sunday. If Colorado can beat Cal first and close with a victory over Utah in the final week of the regular season, the Buffs just need to top the Cardinal to find their way (potentially) into the top spot of the league. Colorado beat Stanford at home by seven points, previously.
- The UCLA Bruins aren’t going to make the NCAA Tournament unless they win the Pac-12 Conference tourney, but they still could push their way into the regular-season title discussion with a strong finish. Since an 8-9 start to the year, the Bruins have won nine of 11 games to sit one half game behind ASU in the standings. UCLA hosts the ‘Zona schools this week before closing with its road game at USC.
Beyond the six teams above we see getting into the Big Dance next month, a few other teams should make it to the National Invitational Tournament—barring a miraculous run to the Pac-12 tournament championship: UCLA, Utah, and Oregon State. It would be a great season to get nine teams into postseason play.
We will look in again next Monday to see how the week’s games went and provide a sharper view on which teams have the best shot at the regular-season championship in the Pac-12 Conference.
Read all our Pac-12 men’s basketball coverage here!