Even three wins may not do it for Ducks
Nothing has come easy for the Oregon men in Pac-12 play, with four of their 10 wins coming in overtime.
So, even with the final three games at home, where Oregon hasn't lost all season, it would be silly to think the Ducks are going to finish 13-5. To get there, Oregon would first need to avenge a loss to Oregon State at 8 p.m. Thursday, then finish with wins over Cal and Stanford on March 5 and 7. Even three wins might not get the Ducks a conference title.
Five teams are within a game of first-place Arizona State (10-4). The Ducks, Colorado and UCLA are 10-5. Arizona is 9-5 after last week's wrenching OT loss to Oregon.
The Arizona schools' visit to Los Angeles this week will go a long way toward untangling the knot atop the standings. Colorado's three games are on the road, in the Bay Area this weekend and then at Utah.
More than a regular-season championship is at stake. At least one of the contending teams will need to play on the opening day of the Pac-12 tournament, while the top four get a bye into the quarterfinals. Winning four games in four days can be done — the Ducks did it a year ago — but it isn't the smartest route to a championship.
If Oregon can't solve its Oregon State problem, a conference title shot disappears on Thursday. The Beavers have won three in a row and four of the last five against the Ducks; OSU dominated the second half on Feb. 8 at Gill Coliseum in a 63-53 win.
• If there have been more impactful days from a college athlete than Sabrina Ionescu's Monday, none come to mind. After delivering a wonderful tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant at their memorial service in L.A., the Ducks' star guard shook off a stomach illness and fatigue to post her 26th triple-double and either score or assist on a career-best 69% of Oregon's points in its conference-title clinching, 74-66 win at No. 4 Stanford.
It was a remarkable performance under the circumstances, and a reminder of how special it's been watching one of the best competitors in the history of college basketball rise to the occasion.
Senior weekend will be emotional for women's basketball fans in the Willamette Valley. Though their team will play NCAA Tournament games at home, Ducks fans will salute Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, graduate transfer Minyon Moore and junior Satou Sabally, who will turn pro next season. Ditto in Corvallis, where Beavers fans will celebrate four seniors: Mikayla Pivec, Kat Tudor, Madison Washington and Janessa Thropay.
• It's also senior weekend for the women's teams at Portland and Portland State, which both have only one senior.
The Pilots, who have wrapped up a first-round bye in the West Coast Conference tournament, close the regular season at 2 p.m. Saturday against first-place Gonzaga. Their lone senior is Jesuit High grad Kate Andersen.
The Vikings will try to end a losing streak at seven games during visits at 7 p.m. Thursday from Idaho State and 2 p.m. Saturday from Weber State. Their lone senior is Roseburg native Jordan Stotler.
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