Posted on February 10, 2022
The focus of the Pac-12 men’s basketball race turns to the Northwest today, with three games in Oregon and Washington.
Arizona takes on the red-hot Cougars, who have won five straight, and Arizona State figures to get all they want from the much-improved Huskies.
Don’t look now, but the Washington road trip has become more difficult than in recent years, making sweeps harder to come by.
Down in Oregon, the Ducks host Stanford in a game they need to win to keep pace with UCLA and WSU in the fight for second place.
I preview all three matchups below, and my picks along with Stephen Vilardo’s appear at the bottom.
No. 4 Arizona at Washington State
Friel Court at Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, WA
Thursday, February 10
6:00 pm PT, FS1
Arizona may be 15-1 against Washington State during the Pac-12 era, but the Cougars field the most dangerous team they’ve had since the Conference expanded.
Andrej Jakimovski is 13-of-27 from three over the past five games, helping to spur WSU’s five-game win streak.
But those games were played against the middle-to-bottom of the barrel teams in the league. And UA is in a different stratosphere.
At third in the nation in scoring offense, Tommy Lloyd’s team averages 85.1 points per game while holding the No. 6 defense according to KenPom.
The combination of elite offense and defense is something WSU hasn’t faced this season, making this matchup a Litmus Test for Kyle Smith’s squad.
A victory over Arizona would probably move the Cougars into the projected Field of 68.
To get it done, Wazzu must force turnovers and keep the Wildcat bigs from going to work down low.
Stanford at Oregon
Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR
Thursday, February 10
6:00 pm PT, ESPN2
Winners of nine of their last 10, the poor start to the season has been eclipsed by the consistency of Will Richardson.
The senior is on a tear from the field, shooting 69-for-122 (56.5 percent) since December 21st.
And facing a Stanford squad with a propensity to turn the ball over, Oregon figures to eat.
The Cardinal are 332nd in the nation with 15.3 turnovers per game, while the Ducks are 91st in turnovers forced at 14.2.
That’s a worrying analytic for Jerod Haase.
To make matters worse, the Tree are just 1-7 in Eugene since the Pac-12 expanded, losing those seven matchups by an average of 15 points.
Taking care of the ball is Step One to defeating Oregon on their home floor, but even if Stanford is able to do that, it still faces an uphill climb.
The Cardinal must also defend the perimeter and hit their own outside shots to have a chance against the Ducks.
Arizona State at Washington
Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, WA
Thursday, February 10
8:00 pm PT, FS1
The Conference of Champions proved it can produce a Cinderella run from its team that finishes sixth in the regular-season standings, and the Huskies sit right in the Goldilocks spot in early February.
The Sun Devils, on the other hand, have dealt with inconsistency all year.
With just three wins in Conference play, the confidence of Bobby Hurley’s roster is an X-Factor in this matchup.
After beating the Bruins, ASU had their hat handed to them by Arizona and enter the Emerald City in a precarious position.
A flat start would probably doom their chances at Hec Ed, while a close game at halftime could spur a surprise upset on the road.
In a battle between two defense-focused teams with struggling offenses, the first to reach 50 likely walks away with the win.
February 10 Game Picks
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