All about the Pac-12: Cal, Washington fight it out
We’re in the final two weeks of the regular season, so our conference breakdowns have changed up a bit this week.
We’ll take a closer look at the teams still in the hunt for the regular-season conference title. We’ll also take our regular look at the three best games in the league in the next week, hot and cold players, good wins and bad losses in the past week and an interesting statistic.
It’s really a 2-team race
Five teams remain in the league title hunt – though three of them are hanging on by their fingernails. Cal and Washington need one more win each to make sure it’s a two-team race; the other three teams have to win out and have Cal and Washington lose out. Arizona, Cal and Washington have NCAA at-large hopes, so not only are those teams looking for wins in the league race but also to solidify their NCAA resumes.
California: The Golden Bears have won six in a row and are first in the league at 13-3. They are ending the season on a three-game road trip; they beat Utah on Thursday, have Colorado on Sunday and finish with archrival Stanford on March 4. Cal needs only one more win to eliminate Arizona, Oregon and Colorado from the league race.
Colorado: The Buffs fell to Stanford at home on Thursday night to drop to 10-5. They have the toughest closing stretch: vs. Cal on Sunday, at Oregon on March 1 and at Oregon State on March 3.
Oregon: The Ducks also are 10-5, and they play at archrival Oregon State on Sunday. The Beavers won the first matchup, by five in Eugene on Jan. 29. Oregon’s final two games are at home: vs. Colorado on March 1 and vs. Utah on March 3.
Washington: The Huskies are 12-3 and finish with three consecutive road games: Saturday against Washington State, March 1 against USC and March 3 against UCLA. The next victory will give the Huskies their fourth consecutive 20-win season, which would be the longest such streak in school history. Washington lost to Cal in their only meeting this season.
The pick: California. Cal’s win over Washington means the Bears have the tiebreaker advantage, and that’s what will give them the No. 1 seed in the league tourney.
Top 3 games this week
UCLA at Arizona, Saturday, 2 p.m., CBS regional: While Arizona is an extreme long shot to win the league crown, the Wildcats have moved to the periphery of the discussion surrounding potential NCAA at-large teams. To keep themselves in the discussion, they need to beat the Bruins, who have a four-game winning streak in the series.
Washington at Washington State, Saturday, 8 p.m., Fox College Sports Pacific/ROOT Sports Northwest: This has been a disappointing season for Washington State, so imagine the Cougars’ joy if they could mess with their archrival’s Pac-12 title – and NCAA – hopes. Washington State already owns a home win over California.
California at Colorado, Sunday, 5:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net: Cal beat the Buffs by 7 in Berkeley on Jan. 12 and are going for the season sweep. Colorado lost at home for just the second time this season Thursday night to Stanford. Cal is 5-2 on the road in league play.
[Weekend watch: Kansas-Missouri rivalry hits zenith]
Washington G Terrence Ross: Ross has averaged 21.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals in his past three games.
Washington State F Brock Motum: Motum continues to be the Cougars’ main offensive threat. Over his past seven games, he is averaging 24.3 points and 6.7 rebounds, and he hit 59.6 percent from the field (59-of-99) in that span.
California F Harper Kamp: He has averaged 15.6 points over the past five games, almost four points per game more than his overall season average. Kamp was 31-of-54 from the field (57.4 percent) in that span.
Arizona State G Trent Lockett: The Sun Devils aren’t that good offensively as it is, but when Lockett struggles, the offense is really bad. He has struggled in the past two games, scoring 19 points and going 5-of-21 from the floor (23.8 percent). He was 1-of-6 from 3-point range in the two games.
Stanford G Aaron Bright: He is one of three Cardinal players who averages in double figures, but he has managed just 41 points in the past five games – and 20 of those came in one game. Bright was 13-of-41 from the field in those contests (34.1 percent).
California G Allen Crabbe: Crabbe leads Cal in scoring, but he has seen his average drop a bit in the past three games. He scored just 27 total points in those contests and was 7-of-30 from the field (23.3 percent), including 4-of-17 from beyond the arc (23.5 percent).
Good win last week
Washington 79, Arizona 70. The Huskies finished off the season sweep of the Wildcats with this home-court victory. Arizona came in with a five-game winning streak that had put it in the title chase.
Bad loss last week
Stanford 74, Colorado 50. Colorado legitimately was in the league title picture until it fell by 24 at home to the Cardinal. It was Colorado’s first home loss since Dec. 9 to Wyoming.
There are a lot of bad numbers for Arizona State. First, the Sun Devils have not won two games in a row even once this season; they are the only team from one of the Big Six conferences with that status. Second, they have lost 20 games for the first time under coach Herb Sendek, who began his ASU career before the 2006-07 season. Third, they commit 16.6 turnovers per game, ninth-most in the nation and second-most among Big Six schools (Texas Tech is at 17.0).
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