Pac-10 Race

Again, the weekend only muddied the conference race rather than making anything clearer. Three teams probably still have a very realistic shot to win the conference title...

It's getting down to the nitty-gritty in the Pac-10, and again, it's a matter of the race getting more complicated this week than clearer.

The best way now to analyze the conference race is to look at the teams in head-to-head-comparisons, comparing records and remaining schedules.

Best Chances in the Pac-10, as of February 18th:

1. Oregon

Current Pac-10 Record: 10-4 (1st -- tied)

Remaining Schedule:

2/21 Washington St.
2/23 Washington
2/28 at USC
3/2 at UCLA

Oregon has the easiest guarantee of getting 12 wins among anyone in the conference. They already have 10 wins and get Washington State and Washington at home this weekend. Oregon is a monster at home, playing against the two worst teams in the conference – at home. With those two games almost guaranteed in the win column, Oregon almost has the upper hand on winning the conference at this point.

In a head-to-head comparison to USC, they both have two difficult games on the road, Oregon at the L.A. schools and USC at the Bay Area. But USC has Oregon at home, along with OSU, which is tougher than Washington and Washington State at home for Oregon.

Lining up Oregon's schedule against Stanford's, the Ducks have the clear advantage. Oregon's trip to L.A. is about as difficult as Stanford's trip to Arizona and ASU. But then Oregon has the Washington schools at home, compared to Stanford's at-home games against USC and UCLA.

Head-to-head against Arizona, Oregon has a slight advantage, but it's darn close. Arizona's game against ASU at home is about the same as Oregon at home against Washington. Chalk up another win for Oregon at home against Washington State. So, with one less loss, Oregon then has at USC and at UCLA, compared to Arizona having Stanford and Cal at home. And then here are the scenarios: If Oregon wins one in L.A. and Arizona sweeps the Bay Area schools at home, they tie, but Oregon wins the tie breaker. Only if Oregon gets swept in L.A. and Arizona sweeps Stanford and Cal at home would Arizona then more than likely move ahead of Oregon.

2. Arizona

Current Pac-10 Record: 10-5 (4th)

Remaining Schedule:

2/20 ASU
2/28 Stanford
3/2 Cal

Even with one more loss than USC or Stanford, Arizona has a better chance to finish higher than either the Trojans or the Cardinal.

In a head-to-head to comparison against USC, it's close. Arizona has one more loss, but only three remaining games (as opposed to USC's four), and all three at home. Arizona's home game against Stanford is close in comparison to USC's home game against Oregon. Arizona's home game against Arizona State is probably a win, as is USC's home game against Oregon State. So, that leaves Arizona at home against Cal, as compared to USC on the road at Stanford and Cal. Arizona probably has a better chance beating Cal at home then USC has of sweeping in the Bay Area. If USC just gets one win in the Bay Area, it might come down to a tie breaker between the two.

Really, bottom line, for USC to have a lock in finishing ahead of Arizona, they'll need to sweep in the Bay Area this weekend.

3. USC

Current Pac-10 Records: 10-4 (1st -- tied)

Remaining Schedule:

2/21 at Stanford
2/23 at Cal
2/28 Oregon
3/2 Oregon State

USC really moved up by sweeping the Arizona schools this weekend at home. But they have a little tougher schedule ahead of them as compared to Oregon, as is illustrated above in their head-to-head comparison in the Oregon analysis, and possibly a slight disadvantage when compared to Arizona.

But USC's remaining schedule gives them an edge over the other team that's currently at 10-4 in conference, Stanford. USC has to go to Stanford, which is about the equivalent of Stanford going to Arizona. USC has to go to Cal, which is close to the equivalent of Stanford having to travel to ASU. But then Stanford has USC and UCLA at home, while USC has Oregon and Oregon State at home, which gives USC a slight nod. If USC beats Stanford on Thursday, it would just about give them a lock on an edge over Stanford in the conference finish. If Stanford wins, they'll still have to win at Arizona for the win against USC to really give them an advantage over USC.

4. Stanford

Current Pac-10 Record: 10-4 (1st -- tied)

Remaining Schedule:

2/21 USC
2/23 UCLA
2/28 at Arizona
3/2 at ASU

With Stanford holding strong and beating the Washingtons on the road, it really put them right in the thick of the Pac-10 race, currently tied for first with Oregon and USC.

But among Oregon, USC, and Arizona, the Cardinal has the toughest route to the Pac-10 championship. They really have four tough games remaining (counting ASU on the road), and two on the road.

To get on an even keel with Oregon, they'd need to sweep the L.A. schools this weekend.

In a head-to-head comparison with Arizona, Stanford would again have to sweep against the L.A. schools to maintain its one-game advantage. If Stanford loses one of those games, Arizona has a clear advantage in its remaining schedule. Even if Stanford sweeps the L.A. schools, they'd still probably have to beat Arizona at Arizona to finish higher than the Wildcats in the final Pac-10 standings.

5. UCLA

Current Pac-10 Record: 9-5 (5th -- tied)

Remaining Schedule:

2/21 at Stanford
2/23 at Cal
2/28 Oregon
3/2 Oregon State

It's actually close to a toss-up, Bruin fans, as to whom has the advantage to finish fifth in the conference, UCLA or Cal.

UCLA has to go to Stanford; Cal has to to go Arizona. UCLA has to go to Cal; Cal has to go to ASU. UCLA has Oregon at home; Cal has USC at home. UCLA then probably has the advantage with a game against OSU at home, with Cal having a game on the road against ASU. UCLA needs to beat Cal this weekend to maintain that advantage.

UCLA, in head-to-head matchups, is the underdog against Oregon, Arizona, USC and Stanford.

At this point, for UCLA to even potentially tie for the Pac-10 title, it'd have to sweep in the Bay Area this weekend and beat Oregon at home. In other words, win the rest of its remaining games. With this UCLA team, the way they're playing, you'd have to expect them to be underdogs at Stanford, at Cal and home against Oregon. But then again, this UCLA team could still probably win any – or all - of those games, too.

6. Cal

Current Pac-10 Record: 9-5 (5th -- tied)

Remaining Schedule:

2/21 UCLA
2/23 USC
2/28 at ASU
3/2 at Arizona

As analyzed above, Cal has a slight disadvantage to UCLA in its remaining schedule. But, as stated above, if Cal beats UCLA next Saturday, they gain an advantage.


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