ASU fight

The Pac-12 is almost ready to fight for a championship.
Photo by David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic

Pac-12 conference play is one week away!

Regardless of what you may have heard, they do not cancel the season when a league’s RPI is in the gutter. There will be Pac-12 basketball games and they will crown a champion at the end of the year.

Where does each team stand heading into the final non-conference weekend?

A couple weeks ago we summarized the Pac-12’s collective performance to date. Here’s a look at what everybody has done since then and what lies ahead (all times Arizona/Mountain):

ARIZONA (8-4)
Last two weeks: L at #12 Florida (OT), W vs. Clemson, L at Gonzaga, W vs. Oakland
This weekend: vs. Bryant, Dec. 22, 5 p.m. (FSAZ/KWBA)
One word: Middle
The Wildcats have no great wins but no terrible losses. The UA’s non-conference resume is as bubblicious as they come.

Arizona State (4-8)
Last two weeks: L vs. Nevada, W vs. NDSU, L vs. NAU, L vs. Southern Miss, L vs. Fresno St.
This weekend: none
One word: Yikes
Three straight losses and a fight. Giving Herb Sendek a contract extension hasn’t gone according to plan for ASU.

California (10-2)
Last two weeks: W vs. SJSU, W vs. Jackson St., W vs. Weber St., W vs. UCSB
This weekend: at #23 UNLV, Dec. 23, 3 p.m. (CBS College Sports)
One word: Favorite
The Bears are favored to win their second Pac-12 championship in three years. You hope they do better in Vegas than they did when they lost by 39 to #21 Missouri.

Colorado (6-4)
Last two weeks: W vs. Fresno St., L vs. Wyoming, W vs. CS-Bakersfield
This weekend: vs. Texas Southern
One word: Snubbed
Last year CU was the team that “should have” been in the NCAA tournament but was left out. The Buffaloes are self-snubbing this year.

Oregon (8-3)
Last two weeks: W vs. Fresno St., W vs. Portland St., L vs. Virginia, W vs. NC Central, W vs. Prairie View
This weekend: vs. Stephen F. Austin
One word: Marketing
Oregon is playing three consecutive days and calling it the Global Sports Hoops Showcase. Their last win was against Prairie “World” View.

Oregon State (10-2)
Last two weeks: L vs. Idaho, W vs. Illinois-Chicago, W vs. Howard, W vs. Portland St., W at Chicago St.
This weekend: none
One word: Windy
The Beavers beat both Illinois-Chicago and Chicago State. They should have played the University of Chicago instead of Idaho.

Stanford (10-1)
Last two weeks: W vs. San Diego, W vs. Bethune-Cookman
This weekend: vs. Butler, Dec. 22, 7 p.m. (FSN)
One word: Real?
Is this Stanford team legit? The Cardinal’s only loss was to current #1 Syracuse. They don’t want to pick up loss number two against a 5-7 Butler team.

UCLA (6-5)
Last two weeks: W vs. Penn, W vs. E. Wash., W vs. UC-Davis, W vs. UC-Irvine
This weekend: vs. Richmond
One word: Subtraction
As in “addition by.” Ben Howland’s crew has won four straight since kicking Reeves Nelson off the team.

USC (5-7)
Last two weeks: L vs. New Mexico, L vs. Georgia, W vs. TCU
This weekend: vs. #11 Kansas, Dec. 22, 9 p.m. (FSN)
One word: Sluggish
The Trojans are 331st in the nation in scoring at 56.6 points per game.

Utah (3-8)
Last two weeks: L vs. CS-Fullerton, L vs. BYU, W vs. Idaho St., W vs. Portland
This weekend: at Weber St.
One word: Snaillike
Utah only averages three points per game more than USC.

Washington (5-5)
Last two weeks: L vs. #11 Marquette, L vs. #5 Duke, W vs. UCSB, L vs. South Dakota St.
This weekend: CS-Northridge
One word: Flummoxed
How do you lose to Marquette and Duke by a combined eight points and then lose to South Dakota State…at home…by 19 points?

Washington State (7-4)
Last two weeks: W at Idaho, W vs. Santa Clara, W vs. Western Oregon
This weekend: at Pepperdine
One word: Who?
Western Oregon? None of the other 341 Division I schools were available?

* * *

Usually when teams begin conference play they take a big step up in competition. Out west, league play means games Pac-12 teams can actually win.

With nothing close to a dominant team (or even anything resembling a ranked team) the Pac-12 should be wide open. Cal is the team to beat but this looks like a season where you can get beat a handful of times and still win the league.

That’s all good news for an Arizona team sitting in between great seasons. The Cats are incomplete but the defending Pac-12 champs will have plenty of opportunities to get better and get wins.

One word: Go.

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Scott Terrell wishes everyone a Merry Christmas! Deck the halls on Twitter and Facebook.