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The Wildcats hope for another walk down the hall of champions.
Photo by Wildcat Universe

The Arizona football team just won its bowl game in convincing fashion (trip report coming!) and the Wildcat basketballers are undefeated and No. 1 in the land. Not a bad time to be a UA sports fan.

Pac-12 hoops conference play is about to begin and TWit-Pac is back to take it all in. See what the dozen basketball squads have been up to as the race for the 2014 championship gets underway.

First you need the week’s TV schedule:

DateAwayHomeTimeTV
Thu Jan 2Wash.Arizona St.6 p.m.ESPNU
Thu Jan 2OregonUtah6 p.m.Pac-12 Network
Thu Jan 2CalStanford7 p.m.Fox Sports 1
Thu Jan 2Wash. St.ARIZONA8 p.m.Pac-12 Network
Thu Jan 2Oregon St.Colorado8 p.m.ESPNU
Sat Jan 4Wash.ARIZONA12 p.m.Pac-12 Network
Sat Jan 4Oregon St.Utah2 p.m.Pac-12 Network
Sun Jan 5USCUCLA1 p.m.Fox Sports 1
Sun Jan 5OregonColorado3 p.m.Fox Sports 1
Sun Jan 5Wash. St.Arizona St.4 p.m.ESPNU

Next we’re going to break down each team’s nonconference performance. (n) indicates a neutral site game and the rankings are KenPom.com’s ratings through Dec. 31. We’re counting wins against the top 50 as “good” and losses to 101+ as “bad.” The Pac teams are listed in order of impressiveness from most to least.

ARIZONA (13-0)
Good Wins: #14 Duke (n), at #20 Michigan, at #28 San Diego St.
Bad Losses: None
KenPom has the Cats at #4 behind Louisville, Ohio State and Oklahoma State. Thanks for nothing, math!

Colorado (11-2)
Good Wins: #6 Kansas, #31 Harvard
Bad Losses: None
The Buffs only two losses are to #3 Oklahoma State and #26 Baylor. Solid non-league slate.

Oregon (12-0)
Good Wins: #33 Georgetown (n)
Bad Losses: None
The Pac-12’s “other” undefeated team has not been severely tested thus far.

Stanford (8-3)
Good Wins: at #41 Connecticut
Bad Losses: None
The Cardinal lost to #11 Pitt, #20 Michigan and #62 BYU. Nothing to complain about.

California (11-4)
Good Wins: #40 Arkansas (n)
Bad Losses: None
I don’t expect Cal to finish this high in the Pac-12 standings but the Bears have a better win than either ASU or UCLA. Cal’s losses are against #5 Syracuse, #13 Creighton, #55 Dayton and #65 UC-Santa Barbara.

Arizona State (11-2)
Good Wins: #49 Marquette
Bad Losses: None
ASU’s losses are to #13 Creighton and #90 Miami. Not great but not too bad.

UCLA (11-2)
Good Wins: None
Bad Losses: None
A lot of wins for the Bruins but none against the top 50. UCLA’s two losses were to #14 Duke and #42 Missouri.

USC (9-4)
Good Wins: #37 Xavier
Bad Losses: at #197 LBSU
Does one good win outweigh one bad loss? I say yes.

Utah (11-1)
Good Wins: None
Bad Losses: None
The Utes get the Biggest Bully award for the nonconference season. Utah scheduled not one but two NAIA teams, beating one by 73 points and the latter by 84. Wouldn’t you get more benefit out of an intrasquad scrimmage? Heck, your team would probably improve just as much by shooting hoops in someone’s driveway.

Washington (7-5)
Good Wins: None
Bad Losses: #156 Boston College (n), #107 UC-Irvine
The Huskies aren’t great but their record has been uglied up by losses to #28 San Diego State, #41 UConn and #48 Indiana.

Washington State (7-5)
Good Wins: None
Bad Losses: #181 TCU, #76 St. Joseph’s
Wazzu’s other losses (#21 Gonzaga, #52 Butler, #100 UTEP) aren’t as “good” as Washington’s.

Oregon State (11-4)
Good Wins: None
Bad Losses: #274 Coppin State, at #128 DePaul, #122 Akron (n), at #102 Hawai’i
The Beavers have a road win against a top-100 ACC team (#68 Maryland) but it is canceled out by a slew of bad losses including the Pac-12’s worst defeat of the season.

* * *

The top three Pac-12 teams in the nonconference appear to be the three best teams in the league. Will UCLA prove itself against stronger competition and make it a four-team race? And what kind of record will it take to win the conference?

The last five Pac-12 champs posted conference records of either 14-4 or 13-5. The question this year is if the top three or four teams can separate themselves from the next tier. If so, it might take a 13-3 or even 14-2 mark to win the title. But if teams like Stanford, Cal and ASU can take wins from the top group then maybe 14-4 will again be enough.

The rest of the nation will be watching for Arizona’s (and Oregon’s) first loss but now it’s all about wins. Each victory is a step toward the conference crown and the first wins are available starting tonight.

Yep, it’s still a great time to be a UA sports fan.

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