The voters see a two-horse race for the Pac-12 men’s basketball regular season title.
This week’s Seattle Sidelines Blog poll concerned the University of Washington men’s basketball team’s unexpectedly good season. After last week’s thrilling victories over ranked Arizona and Arizona State teams, the Huskies put themselves into position to challenge for the Pac-12 regular season championship.
Therefore, this week we asked readers to predict which team would end up on top of the Pac-12. Here’s how you voted:
POLL: Which team claims the Pac-12 men’s basketball regular season title? Full context here: https://t.co/pOPbTuqOlM
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) February 5, 2018
Add the two together and the margin is razor thin. Arizona, which began the week in first place in the Pac-12, received 47 percent of the vote, while Washington, a game-and-a-half behind in third, got 46 percent — the difference was two votes. There was little support for second-place USC (one percent) or anyone else (six percent).
Once again there was a discrepancy between the voting on Twitter and on the blog. On Twitter the Huskies were preferred over the Wildcats by a 50-42 margin, while on the blog it 57-38 percent in favor of Arizona. While the discrepancy was not unexpected, it perhaps fell the opposite direction from how I thought it would go, considering those who read the whole blog post were subjected to all the reasoning for why Washington was a legitimate contender, including the schedule argument.
Well, the Huskies didn’t exactly get their final eight-game stretch off to a flying start. Washington took one on the chin Thursday night, getting thumped 65-40 at Oregon in a game in which the Huskies looked nothing like the team that beat Arizona and Arizona State, on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball.
However, the good news for Washington is that the difficult schedule for Arizona and USC down the stretch also came into play Thursday night, with the Wildcats losing 82-74 at home to UCLA, while the Trojans fell 80-78 at Arizona State. That means the Huskies remain one-and-a-half games back of first-place Arizona and a half-game behind USC — though UCLA has now jumped ahead of Washington into a tie for second with the Trojans. So Washington at least didn’t lose any ground with that loss at Oregon, which was one of the two games I highlighted where the Huskies may be underdogs.
Saturday is a day for Washington to close the gap. The Huskies face Oregon State, the team in 10th place in the Pac-12, on the road. Meanwhile, USC is at Arizona, meaning one of the teams ahead of Washington is guaranteed a loss, and UCLA has a tricky game at Arizona State. If Washington takes care of its business, it could be a logjam at the top of the standings, setting up a possible sprint to the finish line over the final three weeks of the season.