UCLA at Arizona is the game of the week in Pac-12 basketball and has long been anticipated as one of the games of the year. It was supposed to be a clash of two revitalized western titans with conference supremacy at stake.
Now it might only determine who gets to finish second to the Oregon Ducks.
I’m not saying Cats/Bruins isn’t a big game. It’s a huge game. But the landscape of this year’s race for the conference championship shifted when Oregon went into Westwood and beat UCLA last week.
This Week in the Pac-12 (TWit-Pac) presents the latest TV schedule (all times Arizona/Mountain):
|Wed Jan 23||WSU||Oregon||7:30 p.m.||P12N|
|Thu Jan 24||Cal||Utah||6:30 p.m.||P12N|
|Sat Jan 26||UCLA||ASU||2 p.m.||FSN|
|Sun Jan 27||Cal||Colorado||1:30 p.m.||FSN|
No rivalry match-ups this week so we get the maximum 12 games. If only the nation cared about more than one of them.
Wed. Jan. 23
WSU (10-8 / 1-4) at Oregon (16-2 / 5-0)
The Ducks are the last unbeaten team in Pac-12 play and we’ll get into why they may stay that way for a while.
Washington (12-6 / 4-1) at OSU (10-8 / 0-5)
The Huskies were 4-0. Utah was 0-5. So of course the Utes beat UW by nine last week.
Thu. Jan. 24
Cal (10-7 / 2-3) at Utah (9-9 / 1-5)
The aforementioned Seattle stunner was Utah’s first road conference win as a member of the Pac-12. Only one more to match Colorado football.
UCLA (15-4 / 5-1) at ARIZONA (16-1 / 4-1)
Bill Walton will be calling the game on ESPN2. Can we get Luke Walton as a sideline reporter?
Stanford (11-7 / 2-3) at Colorado (12-6 / 2-4)
Colorado has lost four of six but the Buffs are still No. 19 in the RPI. Just how many bonus points are they getting for their almost-win at Arizona?
USC (8-11 / 3-3) at ASU (14-4 / 3-2)
The Trojans came this close to beating Oregon last week in what would have been a post-KO weekend sweep.
Sat. Jan. 26
WSU at OSU
The Beavers are the last Pac-12 team without a conference win. If they keep this up, a presidential pardon might not even be enough to save Craig Robinson.
USC at ARIZONA
Alas, there will be no more “Kevin O’Neill returns to Tucson” stories. The “Bob Cantu used to work for Mike Bibby’s dad” angle isn’t as fun.
Washington at Oregon
More from the Washington Doesn’t Make Sense file: the Huskies have a better record on the road (4-1) than at home (7-4).
Sun. Jan. 27
Cal at Colorado
It’s hard to tell Cal and Stanford apart this year. Cal is the team that lost the head-to-head game last week…
Stanford at Utah
…and Stanford is the team that won it. Now you know.
* * *
It’s quite possible that, come March, Arizona and UCLA will still end up as the two most dangerous teams in the Pac-12. But not only is Thursday’s game currently just a battle for second place, it might already be an elimination game in the conference race.
How can that be? I’m not trying to beat a dead Duck but… Have you seen Oregon’s schedule??
The Ducks are done with UCLA and the UA. Their toughest remaining game might be at Washington, who just lost to Utah. They don’t have any road trips on back-to-back weekends.
It’s two games each against the Washingtons, Bays and Mountains. Oregon isn’t losing at home against that slate. So even if you give them three road splits that’s a 15-3 Pac-12 record, which is the new elevated target for the Wildcats and Bruins.
The loser in Tucson Thursday night will already have two league losses with six weeks to play, and the two teams still have to play again at Pauley Pavilion. So, yeah, this feels like an elimination game.
White Out or get wiped out.
– – – – –