I'm not entirely sure when we can officially say we're on the homestretch or if that time has long since passed. What I can say for certain is that this is no time of year to start losing games you should win and it's a helluva time to get hot. Before the second-to-last weekend arrives, we find some of the conference contenders with some significant trap games. Can they endure and make it to the weekend when they'll face even greater challenges? I'll likely be watching. Lots of this stuff.
Arizona @ USC, 630pm, P12N - As soon as KO was dismissed at USC, I started jokingly calling USC the "Trapjans," alluding to the fact that their season was a proverbial freebie as they could play loose and free. Well the truest part of that has been that JT Terrell has gone ahead and taken free rein to shot selection, the Trojans have played pretty decent basketball all things considered. But here's where the nickname holds terribly true: Arizona is on a roll; they've previously rolled USC; and they'll be seeking revenge against UCLA on ESPN's College Game Day on Saturday. Thus, this Wednesday's game has all the ingredients for a Trapjan appearance.
Colorado @ Stanford, 8pm, ESPN2 - I'm most interested to see what Stanford brings to the table. Their tournament chances are all but lost and a return to the NIT - if that's even available anymore? - seems disappointing already, considering where this team had expected to be. Additionally, I thought they quit some in their previous game in Eugene. Conversely, Colorado is still fighting to get a coveted top-four seed heading to Vegas and will need some help; but, most importantly, will need to handle their own business first. It starts in Palo Alto.
ASU @ UCLA, P12N - The Herbivores did themselves no favors by losing to Washington at home, however, they do have the opportunity to play their way back into the committee's graces by winning two of their final three. Doing such would mean they beat either Arizona or UCLA on the road, exceeding or equaling their best win of the season, respectively. Meanwhile, for the Bruins, they find themselves again in a trap situation against the Sun Devils with the aforementioned Game Day experience heading to Pauley. However, the Bruins do have the benefit of revenge on the mind.
Utah @ Cal, 6pm, ESPNU - Not the most intriguing matchup but this time of year magnifies things. Particularly for teams like Cal that suddenly find themselves with a target on their back (unfortunately not a Cheetah taped to it). Utah has played just about every team in the conference closely but they haven't managed to win much. Could this be the Utes' second big road win? Doubtful.
Oregon State @ Oregon, 8pm, ESPNU - The Civil War. Big deal, right? What's bigger is Dominic Artis' return to the court. I've likened this to a trading deadline deal as the Ducks are re-acquiring their most important, if not best, player. Prior to his injury, Artis lead the team in possession and shot percentage. The ball was in his hands. Johnathan Loyd has done a commendable job in his stead but now the Ducks have their man back. They'll likely be getting just his sea legs back in this one, but the longer term prospects for the Ducks are starting to look brighter.