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Husky Hoops Need to Know: Dawgs Hit Rock Bottom

UCLA a surprise leader, and tight conference races abound

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Husky Headlines

Even after the termination of a seemingly interminable losing streak, the Huskies may have hit a new low point last weekend. The Dawgs, who were picked pre-season as one of the contenders for the conference title, lost their second game of the year to rival WSU, who was picked to finish near the bottom. To be sure, the Cougs have improved significantly this year by tightening up a porous defense. Nonetheless, going into the year, a single loss to WSU would have seemed nearly disastrous for UW and they ended up with two. Isaac Bonton and CJ Elleby led the Cougs to a much better offensive output than most have had against UW. The game didn’t follow the normal script- the Huskies actually made a run in the second half and looked like they had the momentum, only for WSU to make three-pointers on four consecutive trips down the floor. In the end, UW had more offensive rebounds and fewer turnovers than their opponent, but allowed WSU to shoot much better from every part of the floor.

At 3-13 in conference, the remaining two games don’t mean much. That’s a good thing, because UW has little hope against either Arizona St. or Arizona on the road. The Wildcats have fallen out of the conference title race, but need the wins for a tournament bid. ASU is still alive to win at least a share of the regular-season conference title. Due to their poor start to the season, they also need all the wins they can get for their March resume.

Pac Postings

Speaking of the Pac-12 title race, it will come down to the last weekend. UCLA has defied expectations under first-year coach Mick Cronin and surged into first place. If the Bruins can beat rival USC on the road this Saturday, they will clinch a share of the conference title. That’s no easy task because USC has only lost one conference home game and has turned up its defensive intensity late in the season. Oregon also controls its own destiny to a degree. The Ducks have to win two games this weekend to finish tied with UCLA at 13-5 (assuming the Bruins win, as well). The Ducks have two winnable home games against Cal and Stanford, though the Cardinal figure to pose a challenge to an Oregon team that is only 4-3 in its last seven.

NCAA Basketball: Oregon State at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The conference has had a big gap between the top and the bottom this year with four teams already in double-digits for losses and a fifth (Cal) likely to join them this weekend. That means the remaining teams have better resumes and the Pac might have better luck on Selection Sunday than in recent years. ESPN currently forecasts the top seven Pac-12 teams in the NCAA tournament. Stanford is the bottom team in the “last four in,” so they certainly have work left to do in their tour of Oregon. Likewise, USC, is “on the bubble” going into their high-stakes game with UCLA. Despite a higher number of losses, Arizona has enough quality wins that their bid appears to be safe for now.

National Notes

If you’re interested in conference titles, the ACC and Big East are the conferences to watch this weekend. Florida State and Louisville lead the conference with Duke and scorching-hot Virginia a game behind. All four teams play on Saturday. FSU hosts Boston College in a very winnable game. Duke hosts struggling North Carolina (can you really throw the records out in this one?). Louisville visits Virginia in a game with implications for the conference standings, the conference tournament, and NCAA tournament seeding.

Seton Hall is in control of the Big East, but they do not have an easy road. They have a one-game lead over Creighton and Villanova and a road game against Creighton. If the Jays pull off the win, the conference could easily end in a three-way tie because Villanova plays a struggling Georgetown squad.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Seton Hall Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, and the Big 10? They have four teams tied in the loss column. Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Illinois all enter the final weekend with a chance at first.


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