Recapping weekend action across the Pac-12 …

Theme of the week: Conference race

Washington State remained one game back of Arizona after sweeping the Los Angeles schools and can claim the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a victory over Washington this week and one loss by the Wildcats (at USC or UCLA). Both teams have locked up top-four seeds (and opening-round byes) in the conference tournament in Las Vegas. Colorado and Oregon are tied for third place, two games clear of their closest competitors for the No. 3 and 4 seeds.

Theme of the season: NCAA outlook

WSU should be considered a lock for the NCAAs after narrow home wins over USC and UCLA — yes, even if the Cougars lose to Washington in the regular-season finale and then in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. The Pac-12 is therefore assured of two NCAA bids, with Arizona claiming the other. Beyond that, the situation is muddled. Utah and Colorado have clear strengths and glaring weaknesses on their resumes, but nobody else is even close. The best-case scenario for the conference, in our view, is four bids. Worst case: Two.

Game of the week: Washington State 75, USC 72

Of the 11 games played on the penultimate weekend, just one was decided by five points or less — and it unfolded Thursday night in Pullman. The Cougars trailed by nine points midway through the second half but pulled even with seven minutes remaining. From there, the teams traded points until WSU took the lead for good on Jaylen Wells’ layup with 1:58 left. The Trojans missed two 3-pointers in the final seconds.

Team of the week: Arizona

The first-place Wildcats held their ground in the race for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, blasting Arizona State in Tempe and Oregon in Tucson by a combined 38 points. They have won nine of 10, the lone loss coming at home to their nemesis, Washington State. The victories have come by an average of 19 points.

Coach of the week: Utah’s Craig Smith

The Utes closed out their home season with blowout wins over the Bay Area teams to remain in contention for both a top-four seed in the Pac-12 tournament and an at-large berth in the NCAAs. After dropping five of six, they now have won three of the past four — an impressive rebound at just the right time. But Smith’s group will play at (or near) sea level for the rest of the season. Can the Utes thrive outside the Huntsman Center?

Coach of the year: Washington State Kyle Smith

In our view, Smith has secured the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award regardless of WSU’s performance in the finale next weekend against Washington — just as his team has secured an NCAA bid regardless of results prior to Selection Sunday. His top competition for national honors is South Carolina’s Lamont Paris, whose team was picked last in the SEC preseason poll but is one game out of first place.

Player of the week: USC’s Isaiah Collier

The freshman guard showed why he’s a potential lottery pick in the NBA Draft, scoring 24 points in the narrow loss at WSU and 31 in the victory at Washington. (He shot 23-of-37 from the field.) Collier and Boogie Ellis give USC one of the most talented guard tandems in the country. Don’t be surprised if they wreak havoc in the Pac-12 tournament, especially if Collier finds his 3-point touch.

Player of the year: Arizona’s Caleb Love

The best player on the best team maintained his frontrunner status for Pac-12 Player of the Year with 38 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in the wins over Arizona State and Oregon. Over the past two weeks, with the Wildcats driving for No. 1 seeds, Love is averaging 23.3 points.

End of an era: Arizona

The Wildcats thumped Oregon Saturday in their final home game as a member of the Pac-12. The experience surely felt surreal for fans who were packing the arena when Lute Olson lifted the program to national prominence in the late 1980s. Over the decades, it has stood as one of the best environments in the sport. That won’t change in the Big 12.

Stat of the season I: UCLA

The Bruins lost in Seattle (by 17 points) and Pullman (by 12) and have dropped four games in a row for the second time since conference play began in late December and for the third time this season. In other words: 12 of their 15 losses have come during three woeful stretches.

Stat of the season II: Stanford

The Cardinal (7-12) has dropped six consecutive games and will finish with a worse Pac-12 record than rival Cal (9-10), which won just two conference games last season before hiring former Stanford star Mark Madsen.

Stat of the season III: Colorado and Utah

The Mountain schools finished the regular season with a combined record of 30-3 at home. They haven’t fared quite as well away from home (8-17, with the Oregon trip remaining).

Stat of forever: Washington State

The Cougars used double-digit comebacks against USC and UCLA to reach 14 wins in conference play, equalling a school record. They go for No. 15 on Thursday against the Huskies.

Game of next week: Arizona at UCLA (Thursday)

We cannot let the final scheduled installment of the best rivalry on the West Coast come and go without mention — and without a plea: The athletic directors and head coaches in Westwood and Tucson must find a way to continue the series next season and beyond as the schools enter their new conferences. It’s good for the players, the schools, the fans and the sport. Or schedule an annual duel in Las Vegas. We don’t care where they play. Just get it done.