The Pac-12 released its schedule Monday and here are some of the most compelling games to look forward to during conference play:
UCLA at Utah- 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4th on Pac-12 Network
The highlight of the first week of conference play comes at the end of the weekend as two teams that are favorites to finish in the top of the conference square off. Utah returns four of their five starters including Delon Wright and Jordan Loveridge while UCLA will need incoming freshmen to help Norman Powell, Bryce Alford and Tony Parker. This game should serve as an early measuring stick of how the Bruins fare against an elite conference opponent on the road without former stars Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. When the two teams met last year in Utah, the Utes won 74-69.
Colorado at Utah- 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7th on ESPN2
The Buffs return their core of Askia Booker, Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott and should be a force in the Pac-12 once again. Utah didn't get an easy slate to start off the season facing the Bruins and Buffaloes in their first two weeks, but the start gives them a chance to prove their legitimacy to the conference early on. The teams split their season series last year.
Stanford at Cal- 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14th on ESPNU
Although neither team seems likely to contend for the Pac-12 title, the matchup will feature Cuonzo Martin's first game against longtime rival Stanford and a Stanford team dealing with the departures of Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis. The Cardinal return Stefan Nastic, Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown and the game should be an even contest between two middling teams in the Pac-12. The teams split their season series last year with each win going to the road team.
Arizona at Cal- 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24th on Pac-12 Networks
The last time Arizona played at Cal, they had won 21 consecutive games to start off the season and looked unbeatable. Then, they lost Brandon Ashley to a season-ending injury, lost the game and never looked the same. Sean Miller's team is the odds-on favorite to win the conference once again and should look to get revenge up at Haas Pavilion.
UCLA at Stanford- 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5th on ESPN/ESPN2
The Bruins have a ton of raw talent, but will Steve Alford have done enough at this point in the season to meet expectations? And will Stanford look like the familiar underwhelming Johnny Dawkins team that we've seen in the past? The teams will have already met once earlier in conference play, but the last time UCLA visited Maples, they were unable to come away victorious.
UCLA at Arizona- 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21 on ESPN
This is arguably the most anticipated matchup of the conference season. Obviously a multitude of scenarios could render this game irrelevant, but both of these teams are regarded as the class of the Pac-12 and they will only meet once this season. UCLA narrowly lost to Arizona early last year but exacted their revenge by beating them in the Pac-12 Championship.
Arizona at Utah- TBD, Saturday Feb. 28th on ESPN
Another highly anticipated game involving Arizona. The Wildcats as mentioned above are the favorite to win the conference, but have a tough stretch to end conference play. The Utes gave Arizona a scare last season in Salt Lake and have their sights set on a Pac-12 Title. And this could potentially be the game to decide the regular season champion.