Steve Rivera COLUMN
Stanford another obstacle for ASU
Had it not been for a one-point loss to Stanford, Arizona State would have won six straight Pacific-10 Conference games for the first time since the 1980-81 season.
That, of course, was before Arizona handed the Sun Devils a back-to-earth 92-72 beating Feb. 22.
But ASU’s recent success is noted. Now comes the litmus test as it continues to hope to play well on one of the toughest road trips of the season.
History hasn’t treated ASU kind when it comes to playing Stanford. The Sun Devils have lost 10 straight to the Cardinal and 15 of their past 16.
Don’t expect anything different as both teams continue their quest for a NCAA Tournament berth.
At 17-8 overall and 9-5 in the conference, ASU absolutely needs these games to eventually reach the 20-win mark, where teams are measured for success. Arizona State hasn’t won 20 or more games since the 1994-95 season when it finished 24-9. That was its last NCAA appearance.
Arizona State will need every basket and victory the rest of the way to help it return to the NCAAs.
Picks: 38-17 overall, 2-2 last week.
Arizona State at Stanford
What to look for? Stanford to play inspired and perhaps with a zone that might be similar to Arizona’s 1-3-1. Expect Arizona State to struggle from the field, most specifically from the perimeter.
What will happen? ASU will lose its second straight game, making it the third time this season the Sun Devils will have lost two straight. Stanford by 10.
Southern Cal at Oregon
What to look for? A better Oregon team than showed up last week against Washington and the one that showed up against USC in the first game. The Ducks should not have lost 91-76 to the Trojans in Round 1. But the road has been unkind to Oregon all season.
What will happen? The Mac Court mystique will be too much for visiting USC, although it won’t be an easy game for the Ducks, a team still trying to figure itself out as it sits in fifth place in the conference race. UO by 7.
UCLA at Oregon State
What to look for? Another fight-to-the-finish game between two teams hoping to survive long enough to make the Pac-10 Tournament.
What will happen? The Beavers will be just good enough to sweep the Bruins, something that hasn’t happened since the 1987-88 season. OSU by 3.
UCLA at Oregon
What to look for? UCLA to play well enough to beat the Ducks at home.
What will happen? An upset. There’s something that brings out the best in UCLA when it comes to playing Oregon. UCLA by 4.
USC at Oregon State
What to look for? Yet another close game. But expect the Trojans to throw another problem into OSU’s Pac-10 Tournament plans.
What will happen? USC will win – barely. USC by 2.
Washington at Washington St.
What to look for? A good game between two bad teams? Well, at least one bad team in WSU.
What will happen? Washington will win, keeping its hopes alive for eighth place in the conference. UW by 9.
Arizona State at California
What to look for? A California and ASU must-win game. But California at home against any team other than Arizona means a victory.
What will happen? Cal will hammer the Sun Devils. Cal by 15.
PHOTO CAPTION: The Associated Press
Cal’s Brian Wethers shoots over UCLA’s Jason Kapono.