The Arizona Wildcats may be headed for a rubber match against Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.
After Thursday’s Pac-12 games played out as expected, with Oregon beating the Buffaloes, many scenarios suggest the Wildcats will face Colorado in one form or another, either as the No. 3, 4 or 5 seed (assuming Arizona or Colorado win any first-round games needed).
But UCLA is another real possibility, under two other likely scenarios.
UA and Colorado won’t face each other, however, if Utah somehow beats Oregon and Stanford beats Cal and UA beats ASU. In that case, UA would be the No. 2 seed and face the winner of the 7/10 game in the quarterfinals.
The top four teams in the Pac-12 Tournament will receive byes for the first-round games on March 7 but the No. 4 team will match up with the 5-12 winner and the No. 3 will face the 6-11 winner in the quarterfinals on March 8.
Some more analysis, if you're interested:
Unless Utah somehow wins at Oregon on Saturday, the Wildcats can no longer earn the No. 2 seed. That’s because Colorado’s loss to Oregon meant the Buffaloes cannot wind up in a three-way tie for second with UA and California (a tiebreaker that the Wildcats would have won based on their 2-1 record within that group.)
The Wildcats would earn a No. 4 seed if the rest of the weekend plays out as expected, but could also earn a No. 3 or a No. 5.
UA could face the Buffs if they are No. 3 and Colorado is No. 6 (assuming the Buffs beat No. 11 Utah in the first round), or if they are No. 4 and Colorado is No. 5 – or even if UA is No. 5 and Colorado is No. 4. Whatever team is No. 5 will be facing No. 12 USC in the first round, playing for the right to face No. 4 in the quarterfinals.
One of the many ways UA and Colorado could meet is if Stanford beats Cal, Colorado beats Oregon State and Washington beats UCLA. In that scenario, Washington is No. 1 outright, Cal, UA and Oregon tie for second at 13-5 (with Cal winning that group, but Oregon second and UA third). In that case, UA would be the No. 4 seed and Colorado would be No. 5.
Arizona would face UCLA, not Colorado, if UA beats ASU, the Buffaloes lose to Oregon State and UCLA beats Washington. In that case, UA would be a No. 4 seed but UCLA would end up tied with Colorado at 11-7; the Bruins would then be the No. 5 seed because they beat Colorado head to head.
If they lose at ASU, the Wildcats would be a No. 5 – unless Oregon State beats Colorado. If the Buffs beat OSU on Saturday, and UA loses to ASU, both teams would be tied at 12-5.
In that case, Colorado would win the tiebreaker. Since UA and Colorado are tied head-to-head, the second tiebreaker is record against the top teams in the standings on down. If the top team is Washington outright, Colorado is 1-0 and UA is 0-2 against the Huskies. If Washington and Cal end up tied (if UW loses to UCLA and Cal beats Stanford), Colorado would be 2-1 combined against those top teams and UA would be 1-2.
Even if Utah somehow beat Oregon, and the Ducks dropped into a three-way tie for third place with UA and Colorado at 12-6, Arizona would still get the No. 5 seed because it has the worst record against that group (1-2).
UA could lose to ASU and still get the No. 4 seed if OSU beats Colorado. In that case, UA would face No. 5 UCLA if the Bruins beat Washington, or Colorado, if UCLA loses (assuming that UCLA or Colorado beats No. 12 USC loses in the first round...)