John Chenoy/USA Today

Pac-12 Men's Basketball Whiparound

With a one more weekend of games, nothing is settled in the race for the Pac-12 regular season title.






Best Win (Ken POm Rating)




W86-73 WASH



Arizona (16)




W70-64 ARIZ

VS Colorado


Duke (13)




W87-65 USC

@ Arizona


Arizona (16)




L64-70 UTAH

VS Cal


Gonzaga (32)




W79-69 ASU

@ Utah


Arizona (16)




L65-87 CAL

VS Oregon State

3/2FOX Sports 1

Wichita State (8)

Oregon State



W69-49 WSU


3/2FOX Sports 1

Oregon (18)




W79-70 UCLA

@ Arizona State

3/3FOX Sports 1

Oregon (18)




L73-86 ORE

VS Washington State


Texas (31)




L70-79 STAN

VS Oregon3/2ESPN2

Kentucky (10)

Arizona State



L69-79 COLO

VS Stanford

3/3FOX Sports 1

Texas A&M (25)

Washington State



L49-69 ORST

@ Washington


UCLA (57)


                This Whiparound’s theme has been as volatile as the Conference of Champions itself.  First I thought we’d take an early look at Coach of the Year candidates on the heels of last week’s look at the Players of the Year.   Then I considered breaking down each team’s NCAA Tournament profile, but then the Pac-12 Pac-12’d and the regular season title race got tossed in a blender.

                So instead of jumping right into March NCAA Tournament talk, the Whiparound is taking a stand.    March is a glorious month, it’s the most exciting month in the college basketball season, but it’s not the only month.  In sports, we have reduced every team’s season down to their postseason result.  162-games of baseball are washed away by a couple weeks in October, 16 games of football are eclipsed on singular January weekends, and so on.

                Mike Montgomery never missed a chance to emphasize the importance of the regular season championship.  As hard as winning six straight single elimination games is, it’s not more difficult than being the best team over an 18-game gauntlet that includes true road games.  College basketball’s regular season is buried underneath the shadow of the greatest postseason in all of sports.  The NCAA Tournament will have its time, but unlike the Player of the Year race, the regular season is coming down to the final weekend.  So let’s take a look at the final act of what has been a whirlwind regular season.

                Oregon now fully controls its destiny, with a one-game loss column lead on Utah and California.  However, the Ducks are in Los Angeles to close out the season.  The reeling L.A. schools don’t appear to pose much of a challenge at the moment, but that’s the moment when Pac-12 teams jump up and wreck  one another.   Oregon beat both these teams earlier in Eugene, and much of what happens in Southern California depends on the mindset of the L.A. schools.

                UCLA is the biggest disappointment in the Pac-12 based on talent and non-conference results.  A team that boasts wins over Kentucky and Gonzaga is now a virtual lock for the NIT.  After a Lost Weekend in the Bay Area, does this team even care at this point?  Pauley Pavilion has become a thoroughfare for chirping crickets and tumbleweed.  Will the Bruins step up and play to their talent once more before season’s end?

                Which brings us to USC.   On February 4, the Trojans blew the Bruins out of the Galen Center, were sitting at on an 18-5 record and were off to a 7-3 start in conference play.  Since then, USC has lost five of six and now sits out of the conference race with an almost inevitable game on Pac-12 Tournament Wednesday.

 The good news is that the Trojans still look very good to make the NCAA Tournament, thanks largely to their huge win over Wichita State.  The question becomes then, how motivated will the Trojans be to impact the conference regular season championship in their game against Oregon when they themselves have no shot to win it?  Certainly they’ll be motivated to head into postseason on a better note than the one they’ve been playing for the past three weeks.

So here’s how it breaks down.  Oregon wins the conference outright if they sweep the L.A. schools.  Utah wins by winning its one game this week against Colorado (at the Huntsman Center) and by having Oregon lose both games in Los Angeles.   Oregon swept the Utes, so any scenario that ends in a tie also gives the Ducks the regular season title.  Utah has to win it outright to win it.  So if Oregon splits, Utah can’t win the conference title.

Cal, on the other hand, needs to sweep the desert schools and have Oregon get swept in L.A. to win the conference title outright. Cal split with Oregon and Utah.  If the Ducks and Bears end up tied, the next tie-breaker is each team’s record vs. the team occupying the next highest spot in the standings. So, follow me here.  If Cal ends up tied with Oregon, Oregon’s sweep of Utah would give the Ducks the title over Cal’s split with the Utes.

If Cal ties with the Utes and both finish ahead of the Ducks, Cal’s split with Oregon would give the Bears the title over Utah’s sweep at the hands of the Ducks.  If all three teams end up tied, it’s the collective record against each other, in which Oregon, at 3-1 vs. Utah and Cal, would again win the conference regular season title and the #1 seed in the conference tournament.

What about Arizona?  The best Arizona can do is tie Oregon in the loss column, but in that case they’d lose out by virtue of the Ducks’ win in Tucson on January 28.  What about some four-team craziness, a situation where the Wildcats finish tied with Oregon, Utah, and Cal, because in that case, if they beat Cal this week, the tiebreaker becomes the cumulative records of each against one another.  Oregon went 4-1 against those three teams, a record none of the other three can match.

Bottom line is that Oregon is the only team that can win the league under a number of different scenarios in addition to having sole control of the outcome.   That’s still the likeliest outcome, but considering this conference, this year, it wouldn’t be crazy to bet on chaos. 

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