Pac-10 basketball: Stakes sizzle for Washington schools, Oregon State (notes, links):Hot and Latest News
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Pac-10 basketball: Stakes sizzle for Washington schools, Oregon State (notes, links)

The stakes in Seattle today are obvious. The Washington Huskies are trying to make history and win their first outright Pac-10 title, and Washington State is trying to spoil that while bolstering its own postseason hopes.
But in Los Angeles, where Oregon State and Oregon play today? The stakes aren't so clear cut, but they are significant in their own way.
The Beavers could finish anywhere from tied for fifth place to alone in eighth in the Pac-10, depending on what happens. More importantly, they have a legit chance to finish as the No. 6 seed for next week's Pac-10 Tournament and get a first-round bye.

First, of course, they have to beat USC. If they don't, they finish in eighth place, either alone or tied with Stanford, and would play the Cardinal in the first round at 6 p.m. Wednesday. But if OSU beats USC, something it already has done this season, then things get interesting.

If Washington State loses to Washington -- the Huskies are about a seven-point favorite -- and OSU beats USC, then we get a three-way tie for sixth at 8-10, and OSU gets the No. 6 seed. The tiebreaker works like this: If more than two teams are tied for a spot, then the conference's seeding tiebreaker is cumulative head-to-head record among the tiedt eams. Under the above scenario, OSU would be 3-1 against the others, USC 2-2 and WSU 1-3, giving the Beavers the sixth seed and much-prized off day.

There's also the possibility of a four-way tie for fifth if the above happens and Arizona loses to Stanford, dropping the Wildcats to 8-10. In that case, Arizona would own the cumulative best record and be No. 5 seed, then the scenario in the above paragraph is used and OSU is the No. 6 seed.

The Pac-10
Washington ......... 13-4
UCLA ................. 12-5
Cal ..................... 11-6
Arizona State ...... 10-7
Arizona ................ 8-9
Washington St. ..... 8-9
USC ..................... 8-9
Oregon State ....... 7-10
Stanford ............... 6-11
Oregon ................ 2-15

Today's games
•California at Arizona State,
11 a.m. (CBS)
•Oregon at UCLA, 12:30 p.m. (ABC)
•Washington State at Washington, 2:30 p.m. (FSN)
•Oregon State at USC, 5 p.m.
•Stanford at Arizona, 4:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Oregon will finish last in conference no matter if it beats UCLA today, so the only question is if the Ducks finish at 2-16 or 3-15 in conference, either of which will be their worst Pac-10 record since going 3-15 in 2002-03, Jerry Green's first season as coach. But if the Ducks can stay competitive against the Bruins, it will be a good building block for next season, the outlook for which is a lot brighter than it was two weeks ago.
One last thing. What would it take to create a Civil War rubber match in the Pac-10 Tournament first round? First of all, OSU has to beat USC to climb out of eighth place. Then, Arizona and WSU have to win their games, tying them for fifth place at 9-9, and leave OSU and USC in a seventh-place tie, and by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker, Oregon State would be the seventh seed and play the Ducks as 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Got it? Here are today's links:

•After running his team through a typically early practice Friday, Oregon State coach Craig Robinson does "Jim Rome is Burning," and some local TV interviews.

•USC suffered the first loss handed out by Oregon State in conference this season, but it turned out not to the disaster many were writing it off as for the Trojans. "When we lost, you'd have thought we lost to a snappy junior high team by the way everyone reacted to it," Trojans coach Tim Floyd says.

•Oregon's young players try to overcome the awe of playing in historic Pauley Pavilion and the challenge of playing what figures to be a highly-motivated UCLA team today. "You grow up watching on it on TV," freshman point guard Garrett Sim tells the Register-Guard. "I can't wait to play. There's so much history behind it." Former Oregon player Adam Zahn is playing professionally, believe it or not, for a team in Iraq.

•UCLA will salute its strong senior class of Darren Collison, Josh Shipp and Alfred Aboya with a Senior Day ceremony before the Bruins play Oregon. The three are a rarity, players with NBA-level potential who stay at UCLA for four years. "You're talking about guys who are super, super experienced and have had a lot of big moments," coach Ben Howland says.

•The big one today is in Seattle, where the Huskies say that despite an season-opening loss to Portland, they aren't surprised to be playing for an outright Pac-10 title today. "I just thought in my mind the whole time that we have a chance to be really good this year and do something really special," junior forward Quincy Pondexter tells the Seattle Times. The Times' Bob Condotta blogs about the Huskies' chances for the major conference honors, which will be announced Monday, while the P-I's Dan Raley ponders if Washington should retire the number of Jon Brockman (Raley concludes yes).

•Washington State, in addition to potentially playing spoiler to the Huskies, has its own rewards, including a possible run at the NCAA Tournament. "I hope we're in (the NCAA) conversation, that would be great," WSU coach Tony Bennett tells the Spokesman Review. Caleb Forrest, hardly a silky-smooth athlete, contributes in a big way to the Cougars though hard play and great work ethic.

•Arizona State senior Jeff Pendergraph, who will play his final home game today, has had quite a ride in four years at ASU. Says coach Herb Sendek: "Jeff and I talked when I first came in April a couple years ago, and I asked him not only to lead us on the court but to be a great ambassador for our program. And I think he certainly has done that for us. ... He's been a tremendous person in the community and for our program."

•Cal junior point guard Nikola Knezevic, who has been buried in the rotation but finally made a key contribution against Arizona on Thursday, says he plans to return for his senior season.

•Arizona, whose up-and-down season has included wins over Kansas and Gonzaga and losses to Stanford and Washington State, still has a chance to keep its 24-year NCAA streak alive. The Wildcats' NCAA position is as precarious as its been since before the streak, with ESPN's Joe Lunardi dropping them out of his bracket projection Friday.


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