The Arizona Wildcats are off this Saturday after beating ASU on Thursday, so let’s take a moment to see where they are in the Pac-12 title race.
Arizona, 21-6 overall and 11-3 in the Pac-12, holds a two-game lead in the loss column over USC and UCLA with only four games to play.
USC and UCLA, both 8-5 in the conference, still have to play each other one more time, which hurts one of those teams’ title chances dearly (the team that loses that rivalry game).
Either way, those two schools have difficult schedules to round out league play. UCLA still has to play a home game vs. Oregon, a pair of road games at Utah and Colorado, and then a road game at USC.
USC has essentially the same schedule, except it plays Oregon State on Saturday. And the Trojans are now without their second-leading scorer Bennie Boatwright, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Thursday’s win vs. Oregon.
Arizona’s remaining schedule consists of road games against the Oregon schools and home games against the Bay Area schools. Not that difficult.
Even if the Wildcats only go 2-2 during that stretch, USC or UCLA would have to win out just to win a share of the conference title.
That is unlikely, because here are Arizona’s win probabilities over its next four games, per KenPom:
- at Oregon State (67%)
- at Oregon (56%)
- vs. Stanford (84%)
- vs. Cal (97%)
Here are USC’s win probabilities over its last four games:
- vs. Oregon State (78%)
- at Colorado (57%)
- at Utah (40%)
- vs. UCLA (62%)
Here are UCLA’s win probabilities over its last four:
- vs. Oregon (69%)
- at Utah (40%)
- at Colorado (59%)
- at USC (38%)
Technically, Utah, Oregon, Stanford, Washington, ASU, and Colorado are still in the race, but it is hard to imagine Arizona losing three or four more games this regular season, so we can safely rule those schools out.
Basically, by beating ASU, Arizona has given itself an incredible margin of error over these final two weeks. Barring a major collapse, Arizona will be the Pac-12 champion.
KenPom projects Arizona will finish 14-4 in the Pac-12 and win the conference by three games. USC, UCLA, and Utah are all projected to finish 11-7.
Obviously, Arizona is aspiring to do more than just win a conference championship, but it’s always nice to add a little hardware to the collection, nonetheless.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire