Most years, a 33-15 record with seven games remaining comes with some breathing room. Most times, a 16-8 conference mark - with a chance to win more - qualifies as championship-caliber stuff.
"There was a time when a team that looked like they weren't going to get into the postseason was getting their brains beat out every year by the so-called powers-that-be," UA coach Andy Lopez said.
Instead, the Pac-12 has turned into, as Lopez would say, a bloody mess.
The Arizona Wildcats enter the penultimate week of their regular season with plenty to play for. The UA must win its final six conference games - the Wildcats travel to USC this weekend, then host Arizona State for three games - or get very lucky to hurdle conference-leading Oregon and win their first outright Pac-12 title. Arizona's to-do list looks like this:
• Snap an ugly streak against ASU. Four of Arizona's final seven games come against rival Arizona State. The Wildcats will travel to Tempe on Wednesday for a game that won't count in the Pac-12 standings, then host the Sun Devils May 25-27 in the teams' final league series of the year. History won't be on the Wildcats' side: They've lost five of their last six rivalry games, including a nonconference game in Tempe last month. Since 2009, the UA is a scant 3-13 against ASU.
• Take care of USC, then hope the Trojans get hot. Before the Wildcats finish their season with ASU, however, they have to take Los Angeles. A series at USC awaits them this weekend. The scuffling Trojans could help the UA's cause by rolling over this weekend, then stepping up against rival UCLA next weekend. The Bruins sit alone in third place, one game behind the second-place Wildcats.
• Root, root root for the … Beavers? The UA will need help if it doesn't win out, and that means pulling for Oregon State. The Beavers will host Oregon during "rivalry weekend" May 25-27. Lopez, as usual, said he won't be scoreboard-watching in the final two weeks. The Wildcats have plenty to worry about as it is.
"I told them yesterday, 'When you play good baseball, you get the results - and when you don't play good baseball, you get the results,' " Lopez said Monday. "I know it sounds simple-minded, but the teams that play consistently well, they're the ones who are in and the ones who are hosting a regional."
• Who: Arizona at ASU
• When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
• Radio: 1290-AM
Arizona's three-game sweep of Cal last weekend kept the Wildcats in the thick of the Pac-12 Conference race. Here's a look at how the league's shaping up with two weeks left in the regular season.
Team Conference Overall Ranked Remaining conference games
1. Oregon 19-8 38-14 6th At Oregon State May 25-27
2. Arizona 16-8 33-15 14th At USC this weekend; vs. Arizona State May 25-27
3. UCLA 15-9 35-13 11th at Cal this weekend; vs. USC May 25-27
4.Stanford 14-10 32-17 17th at Utah this weekend; vs. Cal May 25-27
5. ASU 14-10 32-17 18th vs. Washington this weekend; at Arizona May 25-27
6. Ore. St. 13-11 32-17 23rd at Washington State this weekend; vs. Oregon May 25-27
NOTE: Arizona State cannot win the official regular-season title or play in the postseason because of NCAA rules violations.
Arizona's Kurt Heyer and Johnny Field were named the Pac-12's pitcher and player of the week on Monday for their performances during a weekend three-game sweep at Cal.
Heyer threw a complete-game five hitter against the Golden Bears Friday; the Wildcats' ace improved to 9-2 this season and lowered his ERA to 2.28, sixth-best in the conference.
Field racked up seven hits against Cal, including his second home run of the season. The Las Vegas native scored four of the Wildcats' weekend 14 runs, and added two outfield assists. Field's .484 on-base percentage is tops in the conference. He's also second in batting average (.378) and runs scored (51), third in hits (70) and 11th in slugging percentage (.541),