A Look at PAC-12 Basketball
TRAFFIC JAM IN PAC 12 MADE WORSE BY FACT THAT MANY CAN'T PLAY WELL ON THE ROAD!
Arizona "at home" looks like one of the best teams in the country this year. Unfortunately, nobody's allowed to play all of their games at home. And, major conference teams don't get to play any home games come tournament time! Despite rolling up big home victory margins, Arizona already has four road losses that have dropped them down to SIXTH PLACE in the 12-team league.
PAC 12 STANDINGS
Oregon State 3-6
Arizona State 2-7
Washington State 1-8
Arizona's poor road play has helped launch everyone else into title contention...which is coming as a surprise to most of them! It's not like everyone was picking USC, Colorado, or Washington to win the Pac 12 this year. Even now, Washington has barely snuck into the Dance discussion despite being near the top of the league standings all along.
We wrap up our series of major conference summaries today with a look at the Pac 12. Please check the archives for earlier notes on the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big 10, and SEC.
You regulars know that we focus on respected computer rankings posted by Ken Pomeroy of kenpom.com and Jeff Sagarin of USA Today. JIM HURLEY'S personal rankings are proprietary for in-house handicapping use, so we can't publish them! Normally we start with the computers. But, today, we're going to start with Joe Lunardi's "Bracketology" because his love for the Pac 12 is becoming a growing media story...
PAC 12 BRACKETOLOGY (thru February 1)
Oregon: projected to be a #3 seed
Arizona: projected to be a #6 seed
USC: projected to be a #6 seed
Utah: projected to be a #7 seed
Colorado: projected to be a #8 seed
Washington: projected to be a #10 seed
California: projected to be a #11 seed
UCLA: projected to be a #12 seed
You can't watch an ESPN telecast of a Pac 12 game without hearing repeatedly that Lunardi has EIGHT teams going to the Big Dance. It doesn't matter how many turnovers or bad shots you see. ESPN wants you to know that their corporate partners have a great league packed with stars! You're about to see that the respected computers DON'T see it this way in terms of depth. Remember that around #50 is a good cut-off point for "dance caliber" because so many auto-berths go to off-the-radar conferences...
PAC 12 COMPUTER RANKINGS
Oregon: #16 in Pomeroy, #21 in Sagarin
Arizona: #18 in Pomeroy, #15 in Sagarin
USC: #30 in Pomeroy, #37 in Sagarin
Utah: #40 in Pomeroy, #35 in Sagarin
California: #43 in Pomeroy, #44 in Sagarin
Colorado: #51 in Pomeroy, #45 in Sagarin
UCLA: #62 in Pomeroy, #53 in Sagarin
Arizona State: #67 in Pomeroy, #61 in Sagarin
Washington: #73 in Pomeroy, #64 in Sagarin
Oregon State: #85 in Pomeroy, #71 in Sagarin
Stanford: #103 in Pomeroy, #82 in Sagarin
Washington State: #150 in Pomeroy, #147 in Sagarin
The computers wouldn't have UCLA or Washington in the Dance...and would have California and Colorado sweating the bubble. Interesting that there's not agreement on who the best team is right now. Sagarin still has Arizona on top while Pomeroy gives the nod to Oregon. Washington could cause real headaches for the selection committee because a high league finish could get cancelled out by a soft pre-conference resume. The computers HATE Washington!
Let's look at offensive and defensive strengths...
PAC 12 ADJUSTED EFFICIENCY RANKINGS
Oregon: #9 on offense, #57 on defense
Arizona: #13 on offense, #51 on defense
USC: #31 on offense, #45 on defense
Utah: #47 on offense, #53 on defense
California: #72 on offense, #43 on defense
Colorado: #77 on offense, #48 on defense
UCLA: #29 on offense, #131 on defense
Arizona State: #53 on offense, #101 on defense
Washington: #84 on offense, #80 on defense
Oregon State: #198 on offense, #82 on defense
Stanford: #135 on offense, #81 on defense
Washington State: #133 on offense, #192 on defense
Nobody is in the top 40 on defense (according to Pomeroy's methodology that adjusts for pace and schedule strength)...and defense wins championships. So, we have plenty of reason right there to be skeptical of the Pac 12 come Dance time. Somebody has to win the Pac 12, and will. But, how are you going to string together March victories if you can't get stops? Nobody shoots red hot every game out. For now...that's a conference of pretenders. You have to play defense to thrive in the Dance. Still time for somebody to figure out how to do it.
The bright side of the numbers you just read is that Pac 12 games can be very entertaining to watch. Poor defense and decent shooting amongst evenly matched teams with something to play for ain't bad as far as showbiz goes! Put that in front of Bill Walton, and it's must-see TV.
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