2011 Pac-10 Basketball Tournament Favorite: Arizona Wildcats

The Arizona Wildcats are the favorites, and they certainly have the easiest track to the Pac-10 tournament championship game of any of the ten teams in the tournament, so you'd think they are the prohibitive favorites. Let's take a look at what their three game path to the title would entail, thanks to our handy schedule guide.

First game, second round matchup: Thursday, 2:30 PM PT/5:30 PM ET on FSN  -- Arizona will face either the Stanford Cardinal or Oregon St. Beavers, who played in the 8/9 matchup the night before.

Analysis: The Wildcats would love to see the Cardinal; both of their previous matchups this season were relatively comfortable victories. Arizona wants no part of Oregon State and their zone/press defense, which sneaked out a victory in Corvallis and gave them all the trouble they could handle in Tucson.

Second game, semifinals: Friday, 6 PM PT/9 PM ET on FSN -- Arizona will face the winner of the matchup between the California Golden Bears and the USC Trojans.

Analysis: This is a deceivingly tough game either way you look at it. Arizona swept Cal, but only won by two in each of their games, one immediately after the Bears had lost Gary Franklin to transfer, the other going to triple overtime in Haas Pavilion in the Pac-10 game of the year. Meanwhile, Arizona split the series against USC, and they did not look good at all in their matchup with the Trojans two weeks ago.

Still, it's hard not to see why anyone wouldn't take 3-1 against these teams.

Third game, finals: Saturday, 3:10 PM PT/6:10 PM ET on CBS -- Five teams to pick from

Analysis: Too early to have any real discussion about Arizona's potential opponent. I would have to say the only team Arizona DOES NOT want to face is UCLA, who creamed them a few weeks ago. Then again, Washington nearly swept them, so it's not like Zona could say they have the edge on either team.

Conclusions: Arizona is the only team in the Pac-10 that can claim to have beaten every other team in the conference. But like almost every recent Pac-10 tournament, the road is fraught with peril, and they don't have a clear edge on any of the teams trailing them. With their date to the NCAA tournament all but assured, plenty of other teams whose path is more uncertain will be ready to knock them off.

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