Entering the final homestand of the season, the Colorado Buffaloes have a chance at their best home wins of the season, as they take on the Pac-12 leading USC Trojans and the second-place UCLA Bruins.
The Buffs will be playing for pride, to beat their best competition in the final home games of McKinley Wright’s career. They’re all but guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament, have already locked up a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament, and they’re almost surely too far back in the conference title race.
Colorado would have had a puncher’s chance to steal the Pac-12, if not for road losses to the two worst teams in the conference, or that home collapse to Utah. Now, if the Buffs were to win it, they would need to sweep this final homestand, then hope for madness to take hold.
- Colorado: win vs. USC, win vs. UCLA
USC is leading the Pac-12 with a 12-3 record. They have four games remaining: vs. Oregon, at Colorado, at Utah, and at UCLA. Ken Pomeroy projects they lose two of those four, but the Buffs need them to lose three. If the Buffs and Trojans finish with a 13-6 record, the Buffs would have the tie-breaker via head-to-head record.
- USC: lose vs. Oregon, lose at Colorado, lose at Utah, win at UCLA
Oregon and UCLA are still ahead of Colorado in the standings, and them beating USC would only strengthen their position. Oregon has an 11-5 record with four games left, all on the road against USC, Stanford, California and Oregon State. If the Ducks defeat the Trojans, we would need them to lose one, or possibly two considering tie-breakers, of those final three games.
- Oregon: win at USC; lose two of at Stanford, at California or at Oregon State
UCLA is more difficult to project because they’re 12-3 and have just three games to play. The Buffs will need them to lose all three, at Utah, at Colorado and vs. USC. If UCLA wins just one of those, they’re sitting at a 13-5 record, ahead of the (hypothetical) 13-6 Buffs in the loss column. (The Bruins might have to play Oregon next week, so all this math could change as soon as those make-up games are announced.)
- UCLA: lose at Utah, lose at Colorado, lose vs. USC
TL;DR: the Buffs can win the Pac-12 if they are on the winning end of an 8-game parlay. Basing my math on KenPom.com’s win projections, there’s about a 0.5% chance (or, 1 in 2,000) that all eight results go this way. The odds get slimmer if Oregon vs. UCLA happens, because we need both of those teams to lose.