Washington closing in on first Pac-12 title in 6 years
A look at things to watch this week in the Pac-12 Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEK: Colorado at Washington, Saturday. This may not end up being the best game of the week, but it could be the most significant. Depending how things shake out, including their game against Utah on Wednesday, the Huskies could clinch their first Pac-12 regular-season title since 2011-12. At 11-1, Washington holds a three-game lead over Oregon State, with Arizona State and the Utes another half-game back at 8-5. Washington has games against the Northern California teams and the Oregon teams the final two weeks of the season.
LOOKING AHEAD: Arizona State is facing an important week, facing Stanford on Wednesday and California on Sunday. The Sun Devils (17-8, 8-5) keep teetering along the NCAA Tournament bubble, splitting their games each of the past three weeks. A loss against the Cardinal would hurt. A loss against the Bears, who are 0-13 in the Pac-12, may knock them out of the field of 68 — barring a win in the conference tournament.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Washington's lead is tied with the WAC for Division I's second-largest behind Wofford's 3 ½-game lead in the Southern Conference. ... Washington's Matisse Thybulle has 289 career steals, putting him third on the Pac-12's all-time list. Oregon State's Gary Payton holds the all-time mark with 321 and Stanford's Brevin Knight is second with 298. ... The Pac-12's two longest active series winning streaks will be on the line this week. Arizona has won 18 straight games against Stanford, longest currently in the conference, and Utah has won 10 straight against Washington State.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Josh Sharma, Stanford. The Cardinal's 7-foot senior center was named Pac-12 player of the week after hitting 17 of 20 shots while averaging 18 points and 10.5 rebounds in wins over the Southern California schools.
ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE: The Pac-12 women's race got a little tighter with No. 12 Oregon State's 67-62 win over No. 2 Oregon Monday night. The Ducks are still in control at 13-1, but their lead is down to two games over No. 7 Stanford and the Beavers. Oregon State and Oregon play the Southern California schools this week, while the Cardinal face Arizona and No. 17 Arizona State.