Washington's seemingly extinguished hopes of a Pacific-10 Conference regular-season men's basketball title flicked faintly back to life Thursday when league-leading Arizona lost at USC.
That dropped the Wildcats’ lead to one game over UCLA and two games over UW (10-5 in Pac-10).
Things could get even more interesting at 1 p.m. today when Arizona (12-3) visits UCLA (11-4).
“Anything can happen,” UW junior Isaiah Thomas said Friday. “That L.A. trip is a hard one to get two wins out of, and especially at UCLA. I mean, UCLA is playing good right now, so who knows what’s going to happen (today)? Anything can happen within this week and next week; and hopefully it happens in our favor.”
Meanwhile, coach Lorenzo Romar was quick to point out that UW can’t benefit from other conference results unless it takes care of its own 7 p.m. game Sunday against Washington State.
“We can’t lose sight of Sunday,” he said. “You’re probably expecting me to say that, but it really is the truth. We have a week and a half of conference play. We have to take advantage of it and not get sidetracked or distracted by other issues.”
If Arizona wins today, the Wildcats clinch at least a share of the Pac-10 regular-season title. Meanwhile, UCLA would fall to a half-game ahead of the Huskies – and UW would pull even with a win over WSU.
Next week, Arizona ends its regular season against Oregon and Oregon State, while UCLA visits Washington and Washington State, and UW hosts the Bruins and USC.
There could be a three-way tie at the top if Arizona loses two of its final three games, UCLA loses one, and Washington wins out.
In case of a two-team tie, seeding for the Pac-10 tournament is determined first by head-to-head competition. If the teams split, the next tiebreaker is based on each team’s record vs. the team occupying the highest position in the regular-season standings, and then counting down through the standings until one team gets an advantage.
In case of a multiple-team tie, seeding is determined by the collective head-to-head competition of the tied teams. If two or more teams remain tied, then the secondary tie-breaking procedure outlined above is applied.
Washington State has been eliminated from the conference title race. However, the Cougars still have plenty of incentive as they head into their final three games tied with Oregon for sixth place.
WSU doesn’t want to drift down even one spot, as the Nos. 7 and 10 teams and Nos. 8 and 9 play each other on the Pac-10 tournament’s opening day on March 9, while the top six finishers enjoy a bye. That means the bottom four teams face a four-win path to the tournament title, and the 1-6 teams need only three wins for the Pac-10 championship and an automatic NCAA bid.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports