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NCAAB – West: Arizona Back in first place in the Pac-12

The Arizona Wildcats are once again back in the race for the Pac-12 basketball title and top the conference standings after a surprising weekend of Pac-12 basketball.

The Wildcats are now 19-2 overall and 7-2 in conference play tied at the top of the standing with the Oregon Ducks that have lost two straight in conference play. One game behind the Wildcats and Ducks are the Arizona State Sun Devils and UCLA Bruins each with conference records of 6-3.

This past week could not have been scripted any better for the Wildcats. Arizona won twice while the Oregon Ducks lost twice. With their two wins, the Wildcats have made the conference a tight race after faltering early.

Just two weeks ago it looked as if Arizona and UCLA would play for the conference title and when the Bruins won, it looked like they had taken control of the conference and Arizona would have to wait until next season.

However, three games later and the Wildcats are on top with both the Ducks and Bruins reeling from defeats. The most surprising was Arizona winning their games on the road, while Oregon was being swept over the weekend.

Even though Oregon holds the edge in playing schedule over Arizona, after this weekend it is obvious that in this conference anything can happen. Odds are with half the conference schedule left to be played, the winner will have to post at least a 14-4 record or possibly 15-3.

It looked as though Oregon was on their way to separating themselves from the pack until they were routed by Stanford last Wednesday and Arizona was about to defeat Washington on the road.

The two teams played again on Saturday with Oregon losing again, this time to California and Arizona able to score three point shots from all over the gym at Washington State to win. That makes the standings tied at the top.

With Arizona now at 19-2 overall, they are back in the running to be ranked high when the rankings are released Monday afternoon. The Wildcats started the week ranked No. 8 but three teams Michigan, Kansas and Syracuse all ranked above the ‘Cats lost since the last rankings were released.

Look for Arizona to move up to sixth or seventh on Monday. If Arizona can finish their Pac-12 season at 14-4 that would give them an overall record of 26-4 and include wins over Florida and Miami.

The NCAA tournament selection committee would have a hard time bypassing Arizona for a top seed in the West region if that was the case. Of course, after what happened this past weekend in the Pac-12, nothing is certain.

Oregon must right the ship quickly as their two losses this past week were to two teams that are unranked. After moving up six spots in the national rankings to start last week at No. 10, it looks like the Ducks will slide at least that many when the new rankings are released.

With just half the conference schedule gone, it appears that the second half will bring even more exciting nail biting games to basketball courts throughout the west.


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