Arizona Basketball

Pac-12 title no longer a sure bet for Cats

2014-02-17T00:00:00Z Pac-12 title no longer a sure bet for CatsBy Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Throughout a 21-0 start that brought up visions of a Final Four appearance or even an NCAA title, the Arizona Wildcats kept saying one of their primary goals was just to win the Pac-12 championship.

Now, suddenly, there’s no guarantee of that.

Arizona’s two losses over the past four games, along with the fact that UCLA has won six of its last seven, mean the Bruins sit just a game behind No. 2 Arizona in the Pac-12 race, with six games to go.

ASU and Cal are two games behind the Wildcats, but UA has lost to each team once already.

The Bears are a particularly intruiging case, with four of their six remaining games at home — including matchups against all three of the other teams at or near the top.

“You start the season trying to win the championship,” UCLA coach Steve Alford told the Los Angeles Times after the Bruins beat Utah on Saturday. “We’re one game back in that chase. The guys know that. We don’t harp on it.”

The Wildcats won’t have to face UCLA again because of the Pac-12’s unbalanced schedule, and hold the tiebreaker based on their 79-75 win at UCLA on Jan. 9. However, the Bruins have a slightly softer remaining schedule.

UCLA and Arizona both have four road games left, but the Bruins head to Washington and the Bay Area, while UA must go to the Rockies and Oregon.

“Road wins will put us where we want to be in the chase that starts in March,” UCLA guard Norman Powell told the Times. “We’re one game behind Arizona. We don’t want to fall two or three games behind.”

As determined by plugging their remaining opponents’ Sagarin power ratings into the four teams’ schedules, UCLA has the easiest slate of upcoming games, even when factoring in game sites. Four points are added to opponents played on the road, while four are subtracted for those contested at home.

California has the second-easiest remaining schedule, according to the formula. 

With identical schedules and no games left between them, Arizona and ASU are tied for having the toughest slate of games yet to be played.

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Utah 6 1 0 0.857 16 3 0 0.842
Arizona 6 1 0 0.857 18 2 0 0.900
Stanford 5 2 0 0.714 14 5 0 0.737
Oregon State 5 2 0 0.714 13 5 0 0.722
Oregon 4 3 0 0.571 14 6 0 0.700
UCLA 3 4 0 0.429 11 9 0 0.550
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429 10 8 0 0.556
Washington 3 4 0 0.429 14 5 0 0.737
Washington State 3 4 0 0.429 9 10 0 0.474
Arizona State 2 5 0 0.286 11 10 0 0.524
California 1 6 0 0.143 11 9 0 0.550
USC 1 6 0 0.143 9 10 0 0.474

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Washington at
1/25 56-77
Oregon State at
Arizona State
1/28 6:00 pm
Oregon at
1/28 8:00 pm
Stanford at
1/28 9:00 pm
Colorado at
1/29 7:30 pm
Utah at
1/29 8:00 pm
California at
Washington State
1/29 9:00 pm
Oregon at
Arizona State
1/30 6:00 pm
Oregon State at
1/30 8:00 pm
Stanford at
Washington State
1/31 6:00 pm
Colorado at
1/31 8:30 pm
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