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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Plenty on the line for Wildcats with Oregon on the horizon

Tyler Baker
University of Oregon forward Dillon Brooks (24) shoots a 3 over Arizona guard Kadeem Allen (5) during the Pac-12 Tournament on Friday, March 11 in Las Vegas. Oregon is the only remaining Pac-12 Conference team in the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller won’t say it, but he knows that this weekend in Oregon is perhaps the biggest two-game set of the season. It essentially means the Pac-12 regular season championship.

With only three more games after the weekend against potential NCAA tournament teams (UCLA, USC, Cal) the Wildcats can run away with the conference. A sweep this weekend would put Oregon two games behind Arizona, virtually making it impossible for the Ducks to catch the Wildcats without a rematch this season. With only one more weekend road trip left to the Washington schools, and a home matchup with UCLA as the marquee home game remaining, it would be hard to fathom Arizona tripping up three times along the way. Even with a loss, all is not lost for Arizona as Oregon still has a road trip to Los Angeles on the schedule.

RELATED: Wildcats home winning streak snapped at 49 by Oregon

However, it would be wise for the Wildcats not to overlook Oregon State as no player on the Wildcats roster has ever beat the Beavers in Corvallis. The Beavers have been known to pull off an upset or two dating back to the Lute Olson days against ranked Wildcats teams and Thursday sets up as another prime opportunity with No. 13 Oregon on the horizon.

“It’s not about who or where we are playing, it’s about us,” Miller said. “We don’t have a player on our roster that has won at Oregon State…a lot of times the first game sets the tone for the second game.”

For now, Arizona is at the top of the conference with a 9-0 record. It has surpassed all expectations thus far, especially considering the amount of obstacles that have been in their way. Injuries and suspensions threatened to make the 2016-17 season one to forget, instead, the Wildcats have persevered and finally reached a point where they are at full strength.

The Wildcats will be able to see where they stand in two weeks when the committee releases the top-16 seeds for the tourney based on the top four for each region. It will be the first inside look as to the committees seeding process.

“I’m excited to see it, I really am,” Miller said. “There’s probably a dozen, maybe eight or six teams you can say could win it all.”

Miller keeps things close to the vest and won’t let any situation get out of hand. He is a poker player, but as he walked out of Monday’s press conference he asked where the Wildcats were ranked. Upon hearing that they were No. 5, a subtle smirk appeared as he turned and walked away, perhaps he knows what this team is capable of or maybe he just likes messing with the media, either way the road for the Wildcats can look more golden should they come away with two in the Beaver State.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter.

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