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Basketball: Pac-12 ready for Round 2

Here’s a look at what’s ahead as teams prepare to begin the second round of the Pac-12 schedule, with each team’s conference record in parenthesis:

1. ARIZONA (8-1)

The Wildcats looked invincible until coming to the Bay Area last weekend, when they squeaked by Stanford 60-57 and lost at Cal 60-58.

Home games remaining: Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford.
Road games remaining: Arizona State, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State.
Miss: UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State.

Analysis: Arizona takes a two-game lead into the second go-round, but starting forward Brandon Ashley (foot) is done for the season and the Cats have shown limited depth so far. Plus, there isn’t an automatic road win left on their schedule. They’ll hold onto the regular-season title, but it won’t be a waltz.

2 tie. CAL (6-3)

The Bears have beaten the No. 1 team in the country and lost to the last-place team in the conference. Exactly where they belong on that vast continuum remains to be seen.

Home: Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Colorado.
Road: Washington State, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State.
Miss: Oregon, Oregon State.

Analysis: An important three-game stretch begins Wednesday with a home rematch against Stanford, then a trip to Washington. If the Bears want to set up a big game at Arizona on Feb. 26, they need to win these next three.

2 tie. UCLA (6-3)

Of all the teams I have seen in person against either Cal or Stanford, UCLA was most impressive, in both matchups. They also played Arizona close, then lost at Utah at Oregon State.

Home: Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Oregon State.
Road: USC, Cal, Stanford, Washington, Washington State.
Miss: Arizona, Arizona State.

Analysis: A loss at Oregon State on Super Bowl Sunday is bothersome because the Bruins had been playing at a high level. But that’s the road in any conference. UCLA doesn’t play again vs. Arizona, but its trip to the Bay Area in two weeks will be intriguing.

4 tie. ARIZONA STATE (5-4)

As long as Jahii Carson continues to play at the level he displayed in the Bay Area last weekend, the Sun Devils have a chance in every game.

Home: Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford.
Road: Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State.
Miss: UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State.

Analysis: Is Jermaine Marshall, with that sweet perimeter stroke, the most underrated offensive player in the Pac-12? ASU’s problem is that when 7-foot-2 Jordan Bachynski isn’t playing well, the Sun Devils are vulnerable inside.

4 tie. COLORADO (5-4)

One school of thought is that the Buffs will improve as they adjust and become more comfortable without star guard Spencer Dinwiddie, gone to a knee injury. The flip side is opponents now have time to find ways to exploit that absence.

Home: Washington State, Washington, Arizona State, Arizona.
Road: UCLA, USC, Utah, Stanford, Cal.
Miss: Oregon, Oregon State.

Analysis: Five road games remains and at least four of them will be extremely difficult. Hard to see the Buffs going 5-4 over the second half.

4 tie. OREGON STATE (5-4)

The Beavers, for several years, have been the least predictable team in the Pac-12. This season, however, very strong at home (4-1 in Pac-12), not so much on the road (1-3).

Home: Washington State, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State.
Road: Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon, USC, UCLA.
Miss: Cal, Stanford, Colorado, Utah.

Analysis: Literally a rough road ahead for the Beavers. They’ll be fortunate to win one of those five away from home. And they still face Arizona home and away.

4 tie. STANFORD (5-4)

The Cardinal has improved defensively and made a good showing at home last week, barely losing to Arizona, then taking down Arizona State. Signs of hope.

Home: UCLA, USC, Utah, Colorado.
Road: Cal, Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, Arizona.
Miss: Oregon, Oregon State.

Analysis: Stanford plays its next three on the road, and needs to win at least two of them to stay relevant. Let’s see if Dwight Powell can deliver consistent performances on the heels of a big game against ASU.

4 tie. WASHINGTON (5-4)

Rarely road warriors in recent years, the loss at Washington State last weekend dropped the Huskies to 1-4 away from home in the Pac-12.

Home: Stanford, Cal, Washington State, UCLA, USC.
Road: Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State.
Miss: Arizona, Arizona State.

Analysis: The lack of size hurts UW, but the NCAA’s closer watch on aggressive hand-checking also works against the defensive style coach Lorenzo Romar’s best teams have utilized.

9 tie. OREGON (3-6)

The Ducks have won two of three to stop the bleeding after a surprising five-game skid early in the conference schedule.

Home: Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Arizona State, Arizona.
Road: Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, USC.
Miss: Cal, Stanford.

Analysis: Oregon may have too much depth, at least in the backcourt. The rotation is random, and production has been uneven. Add that to an undersized frontcourt, and the sometimes explosive Ducks are a bit of a mish-mash at other times.

9 tie. UTAH (3-6)

The Utes took Colorado to overtime on Saturday but could not secure their first conference road win.

Home: Washington, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado.
Road: USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford.
Miss: Oregon, Oregon State.

Analysis: Cal and Stanford are fortunate they don’t have to make the Colorado-Utah road trip — a tough pairing. The Utes have their own problems on the road, and until they get that solved they’re going to struggle.

11. WASHINGTON STATE (2-7)

The “eye test” suggests the Cougars are the worst team in the conference, and they may still end up at the bottom. But they beat Utah and Washington, so you figure they can pose problems at home.

Home: Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA.
Road: Colorado, Utah, Oregon State, Oregon, Washington.
Miss: Arizona, Arizona State.

Analysis: The Cougs are 0-4 in conference road games and we don’t envision them winning any of the remaining five. But a home showdown vs. USC for 11th place looms on March 6 — a game ESPNU already is regretting.

12. USC (1-8)

The Trojans appear better than this, at least based on the fact that they beat a Cal team that beat Arizona. That’s why comparative scores don’t work as a measuring stick.

Home: UCLA, Utah, Colorado, Oregon State, Oregon.
Road: Stanford, Cal, Washington State, Washington.
Miss: Arizona, Arizona State.

Analysis: If USC intends to climb out of the cellar, now is the time. The Trojans play their next three games at home, beginning Saturday against a UCLA team that punished them 107-73 in the Pac-12 opener.

Jeff Faraudo

  • AngrySocialWelfareAdvisor

    Hmmmm…USC has only one win in conference play. ;)

  • Rollonubears

    What an embarrassment to be 9 games deep and still only have one conference win.

    Winning these next 3 will be a very tall order. I could see us dropping the WA state game. They alway seem to give us trouble. If we can play solid D, like we did against AZ though, we’ll be fine. What an exciting time it is to be talking about tournament prospects right now.

  • Pastor Ricardo

    Amen, Brethren!

    Today’s Biblical quote addresses the problematic nature of dwarfism and $C. Walk with our Lord and commit apostasy no more!

    Hallelujah!

    James 3:14
    But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.