4 Biggest Pac-12 Basketball games this week and how they affect Arizona

As the regular season winds down, it's important to watch not only how Arizona Basketball performs, but how the rest of the Pac-12 looks. These are the four biggest games to keep an eye on, with two honorable mentions that could have bigger implications.
Arizona v Utah
Arizona v Utah / Chris Gardner/GettyImages

With only four weeks remaining before the Pac-12 tournament begins, it becomes important to watch not only how Arizona Basketball performs, but how the rest of the conference is looking as well. This is when conference record starts to matter a bit more than overall record and influences how March Madness will play out.

In the wake of last weekend, Arizona basketball moved up three spots to No. 5 in the AP Poll and is a full game ahead of Washington State for first place in the standings. However, being on top means that every team will bring it's A-game against Arizona and be looking to dethrone the reigning back-to-back Pac-12 Champions.

These are the four most important games for Arizona fans to keep their eyes on, with a pair of honorable mentions that could have bigger implications down the line.

Game of the week: No. 5 Arizona vs. Arizona State

511. . 7:30 p.m.. 12-12 (6-7). FS1. TC. 19-5 (10-3). 854. Saturday, Feb. 10

Part of this may be bias, but there are legitimate implications for the conference standings in this game. No. 5 Arizona is getting hot at the right time and should steamroll a stumbling Arizona State squad in Tucson, but rivalry matchups can be unpredictable. This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams, and Arizona will look to roll to its sixth straight win while further solidifying itself as a No. 1 seed for March.

If Arizona slips up and drops this game, the door is wide open for Washington State to not only move into first place in the conference standings, but put Arizona a game behind first as well. Arizona already lost to Washington State in Pullman, giving the Cougars the head-to-head tiebreaker, and can't afford to lose. Arizona State has a huge opportunity to play spoiler and rain on the Wildcats' parade.

Game 2: Washington State (RV) vs. Stanford

Pac-12 Network. WSU. 3:00 p.m.. 12-11 (7-6). 18-6 (9-4). 522. . 517. Saturday, Feb. 17

Playing at home bodes extremely well for Washington State, who's 11-1 in Pullman and playing host to a pair of teams hovering right around .500 in conference play. If they win both their matchups ending with Stanford this weekend, they'll be in first place in the standings and ahead by half a game. In the last meeting, Myles Rice posted a freshman-record 35 points in Maples Pavilion in Palto Alto en route to an 89-75 win.

Stanford, on the other hand, is a scrappy team who will be looking to make a late-season push in the Pac-12 Tournament in an attempt to make the Field of 68. If they have any hopes of catching enough steam and putting the selection committee on notice, the Cardinal will need a statement win on the road over a March Madness middle-seed contender.

Game 3: Washington State (RV) vs. Cal

7:00 p.m.. Thursday, Feb. 15. CougBear. 18-6 (9-4). 522. . 10-14 (6-7). 2287. Pac-12 Network

This game is the start of Washington State's weekend slate of hosting the Bay Area schools. The Cougs need to win this game first if they want a chance to take first place in the conference away from Arizona for the first time in weeks. Even if Arizona loses, Washington State still needs to win out over the weekend to maintain the higher conference winning percentage. If they don't give Cal the respect it deserves, they'll face a rude awakening.

Cal, despite sitting low in the standings and not being in the March Madness conversation, has done this before. When hosting the Cougars in January, the Golden Bears stole an 81-75 overtime win. Cal seems to always pull off at least one win in every weekend series they play. They beat Arizona State and USC while losing to Arizona and UCLA, and they also won their last rivalry game against Stanford. This is not a matchup Washington State can take lightly.

Game 4: Colorado vs. UCLA

7:00 p.m.. Thursday, Feb. 15. . CuUCLA. 13-11 (8-5). 518. 16-8 (7-6). 514. ESPN

This is a prove-it game for both Colorado and UCLA. Colorado is coming off its first home loss of the season and UCLA is catching fire with a five-game win streak. UCLA looked bad entering conference play at 4-6 and then losing four of its first five games. However, the Bruins have stiffened up and gone 7-1 since then. Colorado, meanwhile, has slipped a bit after earning a few votes in the AP Poll for a few weeks in January. They'll look to straighten up and shock an upstart UCLA squad on the road.

No matter what happens in Westwood, it boosts the optics of what's happening in Tucson. Arizona's comeback win over UCLA — the Bruins' last loss — is looking better by the week as they look like a more competitive team. Meanwhile, the 'Cats sweeping the Buffs, who have been impressive this season, is no small feat. Either way, it makes the team that Arizona beat earlier in the season look better, which bolsters Arizona's already star-studded resume.

Honorable mentions: Oregon vs. Oregon State and Utah vs. UCLA

Oregon is taking to the road for the first rivalry game of the year to play Oregon State in Corvallis. While the Ducks are expected to win over a middling-at-best Oregon State squad, these types of games are ripe for upsets. The Beavers are due for a win here soon, and sending Oregon back home to Eugene with their tails tucked between their legs could seriously jeopardize their chances at playing beyond the conference tournament.

Utah is reeling after dropping both games last weekend to Arizona and Arizona State, their first at home of the season. After the safety of Salt Lake City was compromised, the Utes will have to take to the road to face a rising UCLA team in Pauley Pavilion. Once again, Arizona's most recent victory over the winning team will look even more impressive, considering Arizona beat both of these teams in extremely dramatic fashion.

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