The Pac-12 is known for its tough road trips, where travel partners still exist and nearly every journey away from home lasts at least two games. And in most cases there’s a quick turnaround between the first and second contest, with the majority of conference games held on Thursdays and Saturdays.
But not always. There are 15 occasions this season where a Pac-12 team will have two days off between road games, throwing another wrinkle into an already challenging trip.
That’s what the Arizona Wildcats will be dealing with this weekend, in addition to taking on tough opponents in Oregon and Oregon State. They start out Thursday night in Eugene against the Ducks before finishing Sunday night in Corvallis against the Beavers.
It will be the longest road trip of the season for the Wildcats, and coach Sean Miller is glad it’s happening now rather than later.
“I actually think a road trip for us at this time is a good thing,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve been in Tucson for quite some time. It kind of changes the scenery. We’ve got to play nine road games anyway, so might as well get going.”
Arizona leaves Wednesday and won’t return until after midnight on Monday. School doesn’t begin until next Wednesday, though, so the late arrival in Tucson won’t affect academics.
“We’re in a unique time period in where the guys don’t have class yet,” Miller said. “So if there would be a (good) time for a longer road trip, hopefully we can take advantage of maybe the freshness of it, as opposed to coming maybe at the end of February when we’ve been at it for a while.”
Oregon State and USC had the extra day off during the first weekend, with mixed results in the second game. OSU won at Colorado Sunday after losing at Utah on Thursday, while USC was blown out at Washington three days after winning at Washington State.
All told, nine different Pac-12 schools will deal with that extra day on the road, with Oregon, Washington and WSU avoiding an extended trip. Five schools have at least two longer swings, with Utah getting two days off between road games three times.
Arizona had two such extended road swings last season, sweeping games in the Bay Area in January and getting swept at Utah and Colorado in February.
Miller said his teams normally use the day off between road games for film study and maybe a walkthrough, but the plan this time is to practice at Oregon State on Saturday.
“We already have predetermined what we’re going to do,” he said. “Usually the day after a game on the road it’s difficult to do a lot.”
Arizona tends to be fairly consistent when it comes to travel plans, though this year it is staying at a different hotel in Eugene. The Wildcats have not won at Oregon since the 2014-15 season, but Miller says the new digs have nothing to do with superstition.
“I mean, you could look at it that way for sure, but... at end of the day, you’re still going to be playing at Oregon and you’re still going to have Dana Altman over there in a white shirt and green tie, and you’re going to have great crowd and really good team to play against,” he said. “So maybe the hotel can pick our spirits up or something, but we’re going to probably win or lose based on how the game goes.”