Kevin Parrom Colorado

The big shots might not all go in but you’ve got to keep shooting.
Photo by Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

The one good thing about a conference without an elite team is it makes the race more interesting. If you just look at the numbers, eight of the 12 teams can say they still have a shot at the championship.

Last week the top tier eroded so now the league basically is one big middle with a few outlying bottom teams. Will anyone create a bit of separation the final week before the midway point in the Pac-12 season?

This Week In The Pac-12 (TWIT-Pac) is happy to see the games spread out a bit more this week for enhanced viewing opportunities. The TV schedule is here (all times Arizona/Mountain):

Date Away Home Time TV
Thu Jan 26 Washington ASU 6:30 p.m. FSAZ/ROOT NW
  WSU ARIZONA 8:30 p.m. FSN
  Utah UCLA 8:30 p.m. PT
  Colorado USC 8:30 p.m.
Sat Jan 28 Colorado UCLA 2 p.m.
  Washington ARIZONA 5 p.m. ESPN
  Utah USC 9 p.m. PT
Sun Jan 29 OSU Oregon 4:30 p.m. FSN
  Stanford Cal 6:30 p.m. FSN

FSAZ = Fox Sports Arizona
FSN = Fox Sports Net
PT = Prime Ticket
ROOT NW = Root Sports Northwest

Thu. Jan. 26

Washington (12-7 / 5-2) at ASU (6-13 / 2-5)
The Huskies lost the first-place battle with Cal but got an assist from Washington State to get UW back into a tie for the lead. This will be just Washington’s third conference road game to date.

WSU (11-8 / 3-4) at ARIZONA (13-7 / 4-3)
Wazzu had the best weekend in the Pac-12 with a sweep of Cal and Stanford. Not bad for the current 7th place team.

Utah (5-14 / 2-5) at UCLA (10-9 / 3-4)
The Bruins have seven of their final 11 league games in Southern California, which is good news for them since they are 0-4 everywhere else.

Colorado (13-6 / 5-2) at USC (5-15 / 0-7)
Utah came within a game of playing for the first Pac-12 football championship and Colorado has moved within a half-game of first place in the initial hoops race. So much for hazing the new guys.

Sat. Jan. 28

Colorado at UCLA
CU has the opposite remaining schedule as UCLA with seven of the final 11 games on the road. Maybe the new guy will finally suffer a little bit.

The Sun Devils posted a season-low 43 points at Utah. The Cougars scored that many in a half in both games last week.

Washington at ARIZONA
Don’t look now but the #1 rebounding team in the conference is coming to Tucson. Seven-footer Aziz N’Diaye leads the way at 8.1 boards a game.

Utah at USC
For once an 11 p.m. Eastern Time game that makes sense. If Kevin O’Neill doesn’t want to go 0-18 he really needs to win this one.

Sun. Jan. 29

OSU (13-7 / 3-5) at Oregon (15-5 /6-2)
The Beavers got off the deck by sweeping the L.A. schools at home last week and the Ducks have the longest active winning streak in the league at four.

Stanford (15-5 / 5-3) at Cal (16-5 / 6-2)
This game lost a little sizzle after the teams combined to go 1-3 on the Washington trip, but it’s still one of the Pac-12 Games of the Year.

* * *

When the projection for the season isn’t what you’d like it’s best to just focus on the next game. The Arizona Wildcats are back at home with a high-profile ESPN game and a rare College GameDay appearance waiting on Saturday.

The Cats would be wise not to get distracted by the shininess of the Worldwide Leader. Washington State swept Cal and Stanford behind super-sub Faisal Aden who scored a combined 57 points off the bench last week. The senior guard doesn’t shoot a lot of 3s (he hasn’t made one in five games) but he does Derrick Williams-like work at the free throw line (13-for-13 against Stanford and 6-of-7 vs. Cal).

Every win is a good win for this team at this point, and the next opportunity is a couple days before the ESPN cameras arrive.

The battle for the Pac-12’s oversized middle awaits.

– – – – –

Scott Terrell thinks the next game is the best game. Tune in on Twitter and Facebook.