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This week in the Pac-12: Arizona basketball wows

This is the last week that football is ahead of basketball in this column, praise be to Oski. If you skip right down to basketball, I wouldn't blame you. I've been phoning in the football section for weeks!

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week in Football

Washington 27, Washington State 17

I wonder if Steve Sarkisian would have been given the head coaching job at USC if he lost this game. It seems silly to make a coaching decision based on the outcome of one contest, but it would have been difficult to hire him if Washington lost their rivalry game to stagnate at seven wins for yet another season.

Oregon 36, Oregon State 35

The idea that Oregon could struggle at home against a team riding a four game losing streak is something my brain just can't comprehend. Oregon clearly wasn't the team we thought they were all season long, but the million dollar question is why. No Chip Kelly is the best answer I can think of, but even that is somewhat unsatisfying.

Utah 24, Colorado 17

The fact that a Travis Wilsonless Utah could beat Colorado more or less comfortably (Utah was ahead by double digits for almost the entire 4th quarter) is so, so depressing to me.

Stanford 27, Notre Dame 20

So, so boring.

UCLA 35, USC 14

I wonder if Ed Orgeron would have been given the head coaching job at USC if he won this game. It seems silly to make a coaching decision based on the outcome of one contest, but it would have been difficult to let him go if USC wins their rivalry game to complete a stunning turnaround.

Arizona State 58, Arizona 21

Looking at what Arizona State has accomplished in the 2nd half of the season, it's pretty hard to escape the conclusion that they are playing the best football of any team in the Pac-12. At least, I'm hoping and praying that it's the right conclusion. It's worth noting that ASU is undefeated at home, with only Wisconsin even threatening to win.

Next Week in Football

Stanford at Arizona State

We are all Sun Devils. Eww.

Last Week in Basketball

Good Wins

California 85, Arkansas 77
Arizona State 79, Marquette 77
Arizona 66, Drexel 62
Washington State 69, Purdue 54
Arizona 72, Duke 66
UCLA 95, Northwestern 79
USC 84, Xavier 78

There are two pieces of good news above. The first is that Arizona has established themselves as a bona fide top 5 team, and will likely maintain elite computer numbers throughout the rest of the season. Having a team like that to anchor the rest of the conference is huge.

Secondly, Washington State and USC both participated in tough tournaments that easily could have seen them go 0-3, but two teams expected to sit near the bottom of the conference standings both pulled off upset wins.

Bad Losses

None . . . although a few of the missed opportunities below might end up in this category later in the year.

Missed Opportunities

Syracuse 92, California 81
Pittsburgh 88, Stanford 67
Dayton 82, California 64
Villanova 94, USC 79
Butler 76, Washington State 69
Creighton 88, Arizona State 60
Wake Forest 77, USC 63
St. Joseph 72, Washington State 67
Miami (FL) 60, Arizona State 57
Depaul 93, Oregon State 81

Miami and Depaul are both marginal teams, and ASU in particular probably shouldn't have lost that game, but I'm feeling generous and giving both the benefit of the doubt. The Pac-12 played a whopping 17 ‘value' games this past week, and managed to win seven of them. That's not great, but it's not a disaster either. Half of the losses went to teams expected to finish in the bottom third.

Really, the only true disappointment was Cal's Richard Solomon-less showing in Maui, Stanford getting blown out by Pitt, and Arizona State's loss to an iffy Miami team. A decent showing in tough games combined with no bad losses makes this a reasonably successful non-conference showing thus far.

Expected Wins

Stanford 86, Houston 76
Washington 83, Montana 79
Oregon State 101, SIUE 81
Utah 88, Ball State 69
UCLA 105, Nevada 84
Oregon 85, Pacific 62
Arizona State 85, Charleston 58
Colorado 81, Air Force 57
Oregon 91, North Dakota 76
Washington 92, Long Beach State 89, 2OT
Stanford 92, South Dakota State 60
Oregon 82, Cal Poly 61

Praise be to Lorenzo Romar and the Huskies for narrowly avoiding two very embarrassing home losses. Otherwise, nobody struggled to beat bad teams, which is a good sign. Admittedly, it would be nice to see Utah actually play a team with a pulse (current strength of schedule rank: 347) but at least they're winning?

Next Week in Basketball


Texas Tech at Arizona
Colorado at Colorado State
Utah at Boise State


California at UCSB
Arizona State at Depaul


UCLA at Missouri
Arkansas Pine Bluff at Oregon State
Kansas at Colorado
Fresno State at Utah
UNLV at Arizona
Washington State at Idaho


Washington at San Diego State
Oregon at Mississippi
Boston College at USC

After last week's tournament-heavy schedule full of big games, things are significantly lighter this week. Really, the schedule will be light in terms of total games played until the new year, as teams enter finals. But there will be games worth watching each week, particularly on Saturday.

This week includes a big test for Colorado, who can secure a huge win for the rest of the conference if they knock off Kansas at home. Utah will also face legit opposition for the first time this year, so we'll actually get a sense of whether or not Larry Krystkowiak's team has improved from last year.

UCLA has had a sneaky-weak schedule so far, but Missouri should be a decent barometer for how far along the Bruins are early in the Alford era. And Oregon has a tough road test against undefeated Mississippi. There may be only 15 games this week, but nearly all of them are worth watching. (Seriously Oregon State - Arkansas Pine Bluff?!)