The 2020 Pac-12 Basketball season turned on its head this past weekend as parity was on full display. Arizona State has surprised many, as they took over sole possession of first place in the conference, going 2-0 against Oregon and Oregon State. Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona were only able to split their games.
First off, here is how the top seven teams in the Pac-12 Standings looked before last Thursday night’s games:
Arizona State 8-4
Here is how the top seven looked by the end of the weekend:
Arizona State 10-4
Pac-12 Basketball has been as unpredictable as ever in 2020. Who would have thought a few weeks ago that Oregon would lose a road to Arizona State then beat Arizona in Tuscon? Who would have thought that Colorado would sweep the season series with USC, but lose to a UCLA team that looked lost in Mick Cronin’s first year in charge?
Arizona State Takes First Place in Pac-12 Basketball 2020
The Sun Devils had just lost to Washington State in Pullman on January 29, 2020, to drop to 3-4 in league play. Since then, they have racked up seven straight wins. The Sun Devils squeaked by Oregon State, 74-73, on Saturday night. However, they got their signature win of the season last Thursday against Oregon, 77-72. The Sun Devils never trailed in the game, and the team is coming together at the right time. They had to take advantage of their opportunity against the Ducks. Now, the Sun Devils are looked at as a team that could cut down the nets in Vegas at the Pac-12 Tournament.
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Colorado Lets Golden Opportunity Slip on Senior Day
The Buffaloes went 1-1 in their last two home games of the 2019-20 season, as they beat USC and then lost to UCLA. However, against USC they saw a 12-point second-half lead dwindle to one before pulling out a 70-66 win. Against UCLA, the Buffaloes led by 10 points in the second half before UCLA used a 20-3 run to help them secure a 70-63 win. CU has now seen two double-digit second-half leads turn into losses in two of their last four games. The Buffaloes need to show much more consistency if they want to make a deep run in March. That consistency will need to start Thursday at California.
Oregon Rebounds with Huge Win At McKale Center Saturday
Oregon gave their fans some heart-pounding basketball this weekend. First off, the Ducks lost to Arizona State on Thursday, making Saturday’s game against Arizona at the McKale Center even more meaningful. It ended similarly to the first encounter between these two teams, as Oregon squeaked out a 1-point win in overtime, 73-72. Payton Pritchard led the way with 38 points in the victory. Oregon could be looking at a 13-5 finish in-conference, as they close the regular season with home games against Oregon State, California, and Stanford. However, with the parity in the conference, nothing is guaranteed.
Free Throws Achilles Heel for Arizona Against Oregon
Arizona beat Oregon State on Thursday but suffered another tough loss against Oregon. The Wildcats have now lost five straight games against the team that they have competed against as the face of Pac-12 Basketball the past few seasons. Arizona went 10-for-21 from the free-throw line against Oregon. In yet another overtime loss to the Ducks, the Wildcats left too many points on the floor. Arizona has a chance to strengthen their resume as they play USC and UCLA in their next two games.
UCLA Surging, Making Their Case for March
The Bruins had the signature win of their season against Colorado in Boulder on Saturday. On what was supposed to be a senior day celebration for the Buffaloes, the Bruins, led by Cody Riley and Tyger Campbell, were able to pull off the upset. This Bruins team that beat the Buffaloes lost to Cal State Fullerton in December. The Bruins improved to 10-5 in-conference. Mick Cronin has done a masterful job in conference play, and the Bruins could get a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The Bruins still have work to do to make the tournament, but they have two great opportunities against Arizona and Arizona State in the coming days.
USC Has Tough Weekend but has Opportunities Against Arizona Schools
USC lost to both Colorado and Utah this weekend, weakening their tournament hopes. The Trojans have been able to be competitive in Pac-12 play, but they do not have a truly signature win on their resume. Winning against conference-leading Arizona State on Thursday would be a start, but a win against Arizona on Saturday may get more national attention. Not being able to win on the road has hurt the Trojans. Defending home court is a must this week to keep their tournament hopes alive.
Stanford Needs to Finish 2020 Pac-12 Basketball Season Strong
Stanford got Oscar Da Silva back last Saturday in a loss against Arizona. With the help of Da Silva, the Cardinal took care of business against Washington and Washington State this week to get themselves back to .500 (7-7) in the conference. Stanford will have an opportunity this week to improve their resume if they are able to beat Colorado in a home game on Sunday. It will be interesting how the committee views the loss to Colorado where Da Silva got injured, and the subsequent game against Arizona State where he did not play. Stanford could have possibly won both games if Da Silva was in the lineup.
2020 Pac-12 Basketball Regular Season Will Be a Race to the Finish Line
Big games for the upcoming week include the Arizona schools going to Los Angeles to play USC and UCLA. All teams involved could bolster and hurt their resumes in these games. Colorado goes on the road against Stanford on March 1. Both teams could use another resume-building win.
With the surges of UCLA and Arizona State the past few weeks, there are now seven teams in the Pac-12 that could make the case for March. However, the committee will probably only choose five or six teams. There is a case for more, however. The parity in the Pac-12 has produced in a way this season that may get more teams into the tournament. Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona are regarded as the best teams, but the other teams’ abilities to beat these teams have helped their cause for March. It is sure to be a crazy last two weeks of the Pac-12 Basketball regular season before the conference tournament in Las Vegas.