Weekend's Best-case Scenario

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by: Griffin Bennett

With the Huskies playing the Cougars on Sunday, the rest of the Pac-10 will play the usual Thursday-Saturday schedule. As for us Husky fans, it provides a solid 72 hours of freedom to watch the other teams around the league. The question then becomes, who should we root for? What outcomes would benefit the Huskies the most? What outcomes would benefit the Pac-10 the most, and in turn, benefit the Huskies the most? I’ll try to brake it down by game and determine who Husky Nation should be rooting for. (Spoiler: Oregon will not be chosen. Ever.)

Thursday’s Games:

  • USC (11-9, 3-4) @ Arizona State (9-10, 1-6) – 5:30 pm
    • This is about as neutral as games can get. The Sun Devils are already hopeless and have zero shot at the big dance. The Trojans are a long-shot with the skill on the team to string together some wins. With ASU already being a trainwreck, it would be advantageous for the Pac-10 if USC didn’t join them at the bottom of the standings. Judgement: Root for USC.
  • UCLA (13-6, 5-2) @ Arizona (16-4, 5-2) – 6:00 pm
    • This becomes the game of the weekend in the Pac-10. The winner will take sole possession of second place and keep their title hopes moving forward. The Huskies have beaten both teams, but the road win against UCLA would look even better if the Bruins could upset the Wildcats. This is where my analysis will get complicated. With UCLA being one of the “last four in” in ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology piece, a Bruin win would only help the Pac-10 nationally. However, I’m going the other way and here’s why: The best case scenario of the weekend is if both UCLA and Arizona lose one game and the Huskies have a virtual 3 game lead in the conference as they have both tie-breakers. With UCLA’s only other game coming against ASU, they are more than likely to win that game easily. Arizona, however must play USC which is a better team and has a the size and defense to beat the Wildcats. Advanced, I know. Judgement: Root for Arizona.
  • Oregon (9-10, 2-5) @ Stanford (10-8, 3-4) – 7:00 pm
    • As I hinted, Husky fans don’t root for the Ducks. Ever, in any situation. Especially during National Championship games. This one is actually fairly simple as Stanford holds the Huskies lone loss, and any time they win, the Huskies RPI improves. Done deal. Judgement: Root for Stanford.
  • Oregon State (8-10, 3-4) @ California (10-9, 3-4) – 9:00 pm
    • This game is a tough one. They are both tied for 5th with Stanford and USC. In order to improve the Pac-10’s overall image, a win for Cal might be the best case scenario. I have no real insight here, but just a gut feeling that Cal is a better team. Judgement: Root for California.

Saturday’s Games:

  • UCLA (13-6, 5-3) @ Arizona State (9-11, 1-7) – 12:30 pm
    • After both teams lost on Thursday, each is looking to bounce back. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, the Bruins have more bounce than they do. I don’t see many scenarios in which UCLA would lose this game, however this analysis is for rooting purposes only. In order to keep UCLA’s post-season hopes alive, a win here would be required. Judgement: Root for UCLA.
  • Oregon (9-11, 2-6) @ California (11-9, 4-4) – 3:00 pm
    • The “Oregon Rule” applies once again. Cal could really turn their season around with a sweep of the Oregon schools. Judgement: Root for California.
  • USC (12-9, 4-4) @ Arizona (17-4, 6-2) – 4:30 pm
    • The second half of my insidious plan comes to fruition here. This becomes a classic trap game for Arizona as they will be riding high off of a victory over UCLA. A Trojan win would help with the Huskies road victory over them, as well lower the Wildcats conference record in order to give the Dawgs more of a cushion at the top. It’s ingenious, I know. Judgement: Root for USC.
  • Oregon State (8-11, 3-5) @ Stanford (11-8, 4-4) – 7:00 pm
    • Dawg fans have to continue to root for Stanford to win as it will only help their cause. While I think Oregon State might pull this one out, rooting interests will remain with the Cardinal. Judgement: Root for Stanford.

The Outcome:

If this all comes true, then it leaves the Huskies, and the Pac-10, in great standing. Here’s what the conference standings would look like before the Sunday game:

  1. Washington – (15-4, 7-1)
  2. Arizona – (17-5, 6-3)
  3. UCLA – (13-6, 6-3)
  4. Stanford – (11-8, 5-4)
  5. California – (12-9, 5-4)
  6. USC – (12-9, 5-4)
  7. Washington State – (14-6, 4-4)
  8. Oregon State – (8-12, 3-6)
  9. Oregon – (9-12, 2-7)
  10. Arizona State – (9-12, 1-8)

Pending a win over WSU, that would give UW a 2 game lead in the loss column as well both tie-breakers over Arizona and UCLA. This scenario also makes the road loss to Stanford look respectable as their would now have a winning record and be in the top-5 in the league. Most likely it will lower Arizona’s ranking, but I would rather have larger lead in the Pac-10 and potentially have the both UCLA and Arizona make the big dance then to have Arizona sweep the weekend. Will this all happen? No, it won’t. However it will make my TV viewing that much more fun.