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March 2, 2007

Pac-10 Breakdown: Surprises meet

Pac-10 Standings
Team Conf. Overall
UCLA 15-2 26-3
Washington State 12-5 23-6
USC 11-6 21-9
Oregon 10-7 22-7
Arizona 10-7 19-9
Stanford 10-7 18-10
Washington 7-10 17-12
California 6-11 14-15
Oregon State 3-14 11-19
Arizona State 1-16 7-21
Standings as of 3/1

Best matchup: No. 23 USC at No. 13 Washington State, Saturday. If you've been following only UCLA and Arizona in the Pac-10 this year, shame on you. The Trojans and Cougars have been two of the surprises in the conference. Keep an eye on two of the more unheralded players in the conference USC's Nick Young and Washington State's Kyle Weaver.

Worst matchup: Arizona State at Cal, Saturday. At 14-14, Cal is fighting for NIT eligibility. At 7-20, Arizona State is planning for next year. If you are stuck watching this game, keep an eye on two freshmen who give both teams reason for optimism in 2007-08: The Sun Devils' Derek Glasser and the Bears' Ryan Anderson.

The pressure is on: Stanford. Can the Pac-10 get six bids to the NCAA Tournament? Part of that might depend on the performance of Stanford (17-10, 9-7), which played host to Arizona State on Thursday and will entertain Arizona on Saturday after losing on the road to USC and UCLA last week.

Upset alert: Washington over UCLA, Saturday. With a first-round bye in the Pac-10 Tournament and possibly a No. 1 seed locked up, will UCLA's focus dwindle against the Huskies, who are 15-2 at home this year?

Who's hot: Stanford forward Brook Lopez has averaged 23 points and 8.3 rebounds over the last four games while shooting 54.2 percent from the field. UCLA forward Lorenzo Mata is shooting 16 of 21 from the field with 10.5 points per game over the last four games heading into Thursday. He's averaging 6.8 ppg this year.

Who's not: Arizona forward Ivan Radenovic scored a total of eight points and was 3 of 13 in his last two games against UCLA and Arizona State. Since defeating Stanford on Feb. 11, Washington has lost four in a row.

Must see TV: No. 23 USC at No. 13 Washington State, 7 p.m. EST, Saturday, Fox Sports Net

Key stat: 109. Number of blocks this season by Stanford freshmen Robin Lopez (66) and Brook Lopez (43). That's more than seven Pac-10 teams.

Bench bonus: USC guard Dwight Lewis scored a career-high 14 points off the bench in the Trojans' 84-66 win over Cal. Freshman guard Daniel Hackett came off the bench for eight points and five assists. Washington State center Aron Baynes came off the bench for 14 points including 8 of 13 free throws in Saturday's 58-54 win over Oregon State.

They said it: "I felt like he took a cheap shot at me last year and I felt like they didn't penalize him the right way. I'm not going to acknowledge anybody for hitting somebody in the face like that. There's no reason for me to acknowledge somebody like that." Washington guard Ryan Appleby, on declining to shake hands with Oregon guard Aaron Brooks. Brooks was suspended for the remainder of last year's Pac-10 tournament and the Ducks-Huskies game in Seattle after intentionally elbowing Appleby in the face during last year's conference tournament.

Injury update: Stanford guard Anthony Goods (ankle) is expected to miss the final two games of the regular season but could return for the conference tournament.

Worth noting: Arizona coach Lute Olson vehemently denied a rumor that he has Parkinson's disease, calling it a "vicious, vicious rumor" and "totally false." Rumors apparently began when people noticed Olson's hands shaking. Arizona forward Chase Budinger, the fourth-ranked player in the class of 2006, told reporters he his "almost 100 percent positive" he will return for his sophomore season. After defeating No. 9 Washington State 64-59 on Feb. 22, Oregon is the only team to beat three top 10 teams this year. The Ducks also beat then-No. 1 UCLA and then-No. 10 Arizona. UCLA finished the season undefeated at home in Pac-10 play for the first time since 1995. The Bruins won the national title that season. With four 3-pointers against Cal on Feb. 24, USC guard Lodrick Stewart set the Trojans' career three-point record with 220.

Freshman to watch: Oregon guard Tajuan Porter. Porter scored 21 points in the win over Washington State on Feb. 22. Porter is one 3-pointer away from tying the Pac-10 freshman record of 82, set by UCLA's Jason Kapono in 2000. At 92.3 percent, Porter is also the only player in the Pac-10 making more than 90 percent of his free throws.

Something you may have missed: Washington State guard Kyle Weaver became the first player in Pac-10 history to have 300 points, 125 rebounds, 50 steals and 35 blocks in a season.

RPI watch: Stanford dropped from No. 41 to No. 50 in the RPI as a result of its losses to USC and UCLA last week, placing the Cardinal between No. 40 Purdue and No. 42 Clemson.

More Conference Breakdowns: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC | Big East

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