Pac-12 Basketball: Vegas on the Line

The Coors Event Center will be rocking when the Buffs host the Wildcats. - USA TODAY Sports

We're nearing it. Just four weeks until we're heading to Vegas and the Pac-12 Tournament and there is a bottleneck at the top. Who will set themselves apart?

As it were, there are eight teams within two games of first place. For diplomacy's sake I'm going to call that sweet, glorious parity but you can call it whatever you want. However it is that you slice it, we're in for some more entertaining hoop.

Wednesday

Arizona State @ Utah, 5pm, P12N: Last these two faced off, the game went to overtime and we still didn't know much about ASU. We assumed they were "meh" and that Utah was still in the developmental phase. Only the latter has held true. The Sun Devils used the first half of the season to really announce their presence with some oomph and with such considered in the upper tier of this conference. Therefore, this is a must win. If they're going to jump off the bubble and into the tournament (I've seen a whole lot of the Devils on "Last Four Out" lists) this is one they're going to have to fly to Denver with.

Oregon State @ Washington State, 7pm, P12N: Believe it or not I was thinking about this game recently. Wondering when it would come up that these twofer-elevens would face off. And I'm not making light. Well not that much anyways. I don't think Ken Bone's crew could do much better but Oregon State? This was a group I thought would really surprise some teams. Alas, they haven't. Maybe they'll channel some State of the Union vibes into their effort (#CheapCraigRobinsonJokes). Brock Motum.

Oregon @ Washington, 8pm, ESPN2: Finally our Wednesday night gets a little spice. Sure the fact that UW has lost six of seven is less than encouraging, but - and I said it before they took Arizona to late possessions - it's still the Dawg Pound, it's still UO-UW, and it's still the Artis-less Ducks. If that's not a recipe for Pac-12 enjoyment then I can't help you. Oregon still holds the keys to first place and winning on the road is one surefire way to lock things up.

Thursday

UCLA @ Cal, 6pm, ESPN2: Which Cal team will be hosting? Will it be the group that couldn't hang with ASU until desperation time or will it be the group that went to blows with Oregon and Arizona and beat the both of ‘em? Should the latter arrive at Haas Thursday night, UCLA could have their hands full. Allen Crabbe had somewhat of a re-coming out party Sunday as he played a ridiculous game and Justin Cobbs quietly filled in behind with a brilliant 21/3/4. UCLA, of course, is equally enigmatic but happen to have fallen on the fortunate side of close ball games. They're good, to be sure, but once again, the Pac-12 road can be a daunting one...

Arizona @ Colorado, 7pm, P12N: Good on you Pac-12 Networks for snatching this doozy of a prime timer. The #9 Wildcats laid a home egg and head to the Keg either thirsty for blood or confounded about who they are; an identity crisis for a team perhaps still figuring out its offensive strengths and defensive intensity. Meanwhile, as their stadium is packed in black, the Buffs will look to exact monitory revenge. I don't even know if monitory is a word (it's not red, squiggly underlined) but you know what I'm talking about. Whatever the case, Arizona is pretty damn good regardless of their last effort and Colorado wants this one. Going to get rowdy at this sell out. And I'm gonna be there.

USC @ Stanford, 8pm, ESPNU: I don't think anyone would have thought this game would have much by way of storylines but there are a lot here. USC is winning ball games as a care free crew and Stanford is playing some of their best ball of the season. This game has significant tournament seeding ramifications as both enter at 6-5. Also, note that USC beat Stanford in their last meeting. Never underestimate the power of revenge.

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