Is this the end of the line for the Arizona Wildcats?
Arizona (17-14) could be the first team eliminated from the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas, or the first one to advance to the second round, when it takes on the USC Trojans (15-16) at 12 p.m. PT Wednesday. The Wildcats are the No. 9 seed, the lowest they’ve ever had in conference tourney play.
The previous meeting between Arizona and USC did not go well for the ‘Cats; they lose 80-57 in Los Angeles on Jan. 24.
What will happen this time around at T-Mobile Arena? Here’s what our writers think:
Christopher Boan — USC wins 74-70
Both of these teams are struggling, with Arizona coming off from a second half ass-hatching by ASU. It’s hard to believe that the Wildcats can string together 40 minutes of cohesive basketball right now, so I’ll go with USC by single digits on Wednesday. I wouldn’t be shocked at all, however, if Arizona finds a way to pull out a victory.
Ronnie Stoffle — Arizona wins, 77-72
This is a homer pick because there’s really nothing that should make anyone think UA will win this game which is exactly why I think they will. In the spirit of Las Vegas, this pick is like standing at a Craps table and placing a Field bet for the third straight roll. The first roll was a five and the next was a six. You tell yourself, “there’s no way the Field will miss for the third straight time.”
I’m going to say there’s no way the Field doesn’t hit for the third straight time. Will it surprise me if the shooter rolls an eight instead of a nine? Absolutely not. That’s been the way of this season.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 68-64
Would Arizona have won at USC seven weeks ago had Chase Jeter been available? Maybe not, but it certainly wouldn’t have been a 23-point margin, if only because Jeter’s presence in the paint would have slightly decreased USC’s dominance down low on both sides of the court. The Wildcats shot a season-low 27.8 percent in that game, including a vomit-inducing 15-of-47 effort on two-pointers, while the Trojans had a season-best 49 rebounds. Since then USC has gone 4-8, losing its last four, and it doesn’t have the injury excuse that Arizona can lean on.
Zant Reyez —Arizona wins 69-65
Arizona gets the win and keeps faint hope of making the Big Dance.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 72-68
I am picking Arizona because I don’t trust USC to come through in a win-or-go-home scenario.
The Trojans are the more talented team and their frontcourt should give the Wildcats a lot of problems, but I think Arizona will make more plays down the stretch. Losers of four straight, the Trojans have seemingly forgotten how to win.