Arizona & Arizona State: Rivalry matchup!!! ASU continues to spiral downward, desperately looking for a win. At this point, where they've dropped 5 straight, I think even an emotional win would be warmly welcomed as they try to salvage the rest of their season in anyway possible. They have to travel to Tucson to face the Wildcats, who prior to their matchup with UCLA were the hottest team in the conference shooting over 50% from the field over a 4 game stretch. After being embarrassed on national television Arizona will be looking to make someone pay. They've likely found the next best candidate, to Oregon State, in ASU. Last month it took ASU a come from behind OT to get a meager 5 point win in Tempe without Bayless on the floor for Arizona. I expect to see this one get ugly quick and Arizona will run away with a big win over the stumbling Sun Devils.
California: After coming off a road trip where they swept the Washington schools, CAL has to feel pretty confident as they host the Oregon schools this week. They should make short work of Oregon State on Thursday night before having to face the Ducks on Saturday. The second game of the week will prove to be a high-flyin' uptempo shoot out as CAL and OU are both primarily offense-minded teams. Should be a great matchup, but Oregon has too many weapons to be slowed down. Being the worst defensive team in the conference, CAL better hope for an off night by OU.
Oregon: Coming off a big win against their rivals Oregon has a tough week ahead. They'll have to travel to the Bay area to face Stanford and CAL. Stanford is a clear-cut #2 in the conference, and are a force on both ends of the floor. Oregon is going to have to look to run if they want to win this one. Just like last time they'll have to get the score into the low 70's. The slow-down game will favor Stanford tremendously. They'll go from a tough defeinsive team to facing a great offensive team fueled by Ryan Anderson in CAL. Both games will ultimately come down to Oregon's ability to force the tempo and get a lot of production out of Malik Hairston.
Oregon State: They'll face the Bay area schools this weekend as well while hunting for their first conference win. Doubt they'll get it this weekend. Can't we just replace these guys with the Harlem Globetrotters or something?!
Southern Cal: USC has come to life recently having snapped out of their early conference schedule slump. They should have an easy time with inconsistent, and short handed Washington. The real match-up will be a defensive battle with Washington State. WSU has been struggling lately, so USC has the opportunity to pull off a big upset this week to keep competetive for the #2 spot in the conference. Should be interesting, but it's going to depend on whether or not WSU can snap out of their funk. If they do, USC doesn't stand much of a chance.
Stanford: They'll play host to the Oregon schools this week, and look to win 6 and 7 straight. Stanford is the most consistent team in the conference so far this season, and the only team to notch 5 straight conference wins. They'll be challenged this week by Oregon, who beat them in their previous show down. Stanford will need to slow the game down and force it inside to Brook Lopez. Stanford should continue their winning streak with a sweep this weekend.
UCLA: They made short order of the Arizona schools last week, and they are the standout team in the conference. They'll look to protect their 1 game conference lead as they face off with Washington and Washington State this week. They'll get WSU at a great time because they're looking to rebound from their recent struggles against the rest of the conference. UCLA just needs to continue to play with the desire they've shown the last couple of games and they ought to be fine.
Washington: Their lack of a talented, athletic guard continues to haunt them. Brockman is a true beast inside, but without a guard that can cut to the basket their offense will continue to struggle. I love the match-up of Love vs. Brockman this week, but that's the only area that Washington stands any chance. They'll get torn up by both SoCal schools defenses and won't be able to handle the athleticism of their opponents this week. Not an easy week to face when you're looking at pulling yourself out of the 9th spot in the conference.
Washington State: They've been struggling fiercely lately. Their only win recently is against the hapless Sun Devils which was by the skin of their teeth. Their defense better show up with fury if they want to even stay with seven against the surging UCLA team. WSU needs to at least pick up a split this weekend with USC and UCLA, but with the rising momentum of the SoCal schools, and the recent stumblings of their own it's going to be tough.
The Conference race is really starting to shape up this week. UCLA, Stanford, Arizona, and USC will be looking to extend their seperation from the bottom half of the conference. WSU will look to regain their confidence as they're a shell of their early season demeanor. And everyone else is looking to turn things around in an uphill battle. This week will either provide more seperation in the conference, or muddle everyone together even further... should be interesting!