UCLA to face USC with Pac-12 title on the line
It's a big week for Pac-12 basketball with the NCAA tournament quickly approaching.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
UCLA at Southern California, Saturday. It’s been quite a turnaround for the Bruins. UCLA had an inconsistent nonconference season and opened Pac-12 play 1-3, yet is in position to win its first conference title since 2012-13. The Bruins, the only team to have locked up a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament, have won seven straight and are 12-5, a half-game ahead of No. 15 Oregon. UCLA will earn a share of the conference title with a win or any loss by Oregon. USC, which swept the Arizona schools last week, won the first meeting 74-63 at Pauley Pavilion
Oregon still has a shot at the title, needing two victories with a UCLA win to share the title, two wins and a UCLA loss to win its third Pac-12 title in five years. The Ducks host California on Thursday, Stanford on Saturday. Arizona State has an outside shot at its first Pac-12 title and first in any conference since 1974-75. The Sun Devils, at 10-6, will need to beat both the Washington schools, a loss by UCLA and at least one Oregon loss to share the title. Also at stake are the top four spots, which earn first-round byes in the Pac-12 tournament. Colorado and USC are 10-7, with Stanford and Arizona both 9-7.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
The Pac-12 has seven teams with at least 19 wins, matching the Big Ten for most in the nation. ... Oregon’s Payton Pritchard has a chance to become the fourth player in Pac-12 history and first since Oregon’s Gary Payton in 1989-90 to lead the conference in scoring and assists. He averages 20.2 points and 5.5 assists. ... Nineteen Pac-12 teams have rallied from double-digit deficits to win.
PLAYER TO WATCH:
Matt Bradley, California. The sophomore guard was the Pac-12 player of the week after averaging 23.5 points on 15-of-31 shooting and 5.5 rebounds to help the Bears sweep the mountain schools for the first time since 2017.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE:
The Pac-12 tournament starts Thursday in Las Vegas and will have six ranked teams for the first time. No. 3 Oregon, No. 7 Stanford, No. 8 UCLA and No. 13 Arizona earned first-round byes. The Ducks are the No. 1 overall seed for the third straight year behind Sabrina Ionescu, who was became the first player in Pac-12 history to be voted conference player of the year three straight seasons. The title game is Sunday and will be televised on ESPN2.
Compiled by AP Basketball Writer John Marshall in Phoenix.