SEATTLE — Oregon could be playing for fourth place in the Pac-12 and a first-round bye in the conference tournament when it visits Washington on Saturday night.
The Ducks could also be locked into a lower position in the men's basketball standings that forces them to play on the opening night in Las Vegas by the time they tip off against the Huskies at 7 p.m.
Regardless of what happens in the first four conference games Saturday, it won’t affect Dana Altman’s outlook on the final game of the regular season.
“We will play to win regardless,” the Oregon coach said. “We are playing for momentum. We’ve got to play good so it won’t change my approach to anything. We are going to try and win to see what happens.”
Oregon (18-12, 9-8) is part of a four-way tie for fourth place in the conference and needs Washington State to beat Oregon State and USC to beat Colorado in the afternoon to be able to clinch the fourth seed with a win over the Huskies. If the Beavers or Buffaloes win, the Ducks have no chance at a bye, but could still be playing for seeding in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Washington (24-6, 15-2) is trying to finish off a 16-0 season at Alaska Airlines Arena on senior night when it honors David Crisp, Noah Dickerson, Dominic Green and likely Pac-12 player of the year Matisse Thybulle before their final home game. Those four went 2-16 as sophomores under Lorenzo Romar before sticking around to win the conference title in Mike Hopkins’ second season as coach.
"We got the job, you don’t know who’s staying and who’s leaving, if you’re going to have a roster or not,” Hopkins said. “They stayed, they believed, they came together, they worked, they bought in. To see them have success is really, really rewarding."
The pregame senior ceremony may be held in front of a sellout crowd of 10,000.
"They do have a lot of seniors so it will be a big senior night,” Altman said. “We will just go there and play. We’ve had a little success there so it is not like we are going there and it has been a problem. Guys know we have played well there.”
No Duck has lost at UW with Oregon winning its last two games there.
Oregon led Washington 56-51 with 2:05 left at Matthew Knight Arena on Jan. 24 before the Huskies scored the final 10 points for the win. The game was tied 56-56 as Payton Pritchard looked for a game-winning shot in the final seconds, but instead he turned the ball over and fouled Jaylen Nowell on a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds before the UW sophomore made all three free throws.
The Ducks have won three straight games for the first time this season in conference play as they head into their Pac-12 finale against the team that will be favored to win the conference tournament next week.
“I don’t know how to read these guys, every group is different,” Altman said. “We will go play the game and see how we do.”