Thank God for the state of Arizona. While the rest of the Pac-12 is busy making fools of themselves the combination of Zona and ASU have done the majority of the conference’s heavy lifting. The Pac-12 has a pitiful 7-24 record in Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 games to this point and the Arizona schools are 4-2. So the rest of the conference is a disgustingly bad 3-22 in those games. There’s time for the rest of the conference to rebound but things do not look good for the chances of getting more than 3 teams into the NCAA tournament.
If you want a reminder for what each Q1 through Q4 means or what victory/defeat points are then check the bottom of the article.
1 (1). Arizona State Sun Devils, 7-0
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 13.78 (42nd)
Victory Points: 13 points. Best win: Q1, 72-67 over #27 Mississippi State (N).
Defeat Points: 0 points. Worst Loss: NONE.
The Sun Devils are the only undefeated Pac-12 team remaining. But then again they were the last undefeated team in the country remaining last year before collapsing in conference play and barely holding onto a First Four at large berth. Their biggest challenge however comes on Friday when they play Nevada in Los Angeles. A win there would vault the Sun Devils into the top-10 and officially give us a new conference front runner.
This week’s games: Friday vs. #6 Nevada (N)
2 (5). Arizona Wildcats, 6-2
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 13.23 (46th)
Victory Points: 12 points. Best win: Q1, 71-66 over #15 Iowa State (N).
Defeat Points: -2 points. Worst Loss: Q1, 73-57 to #8 Auburn (N).
The Wildcats have a very different looking team than in years’ past but they’ve been effective to this point securing a nice road win at Connecticut this weekend. Their only two losses came in Maui to Gonzaga and Auburn, a pair of top-10 teams. There are still games against Alabama, Baylor, and Montana who are all between 50-100 in the KenPom rankings to build out the rest of their non-con resume.
This week’s games: Thursday vs. #158 Utah Valley, Sunday at #68 Alabama
3 (3). UCLA Bruins, 6-2
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 13.41 (45th)
Victory Points: 7 points. Best win: Q3, 82-58 over #132 Loyola Marymount (H).
Defeat Points: -2 points. Worst Loss: Q1, 67-87 to #9 Michigan State (N).
The Bruins finally got a non-Q4 win with an impressive dismantling of Loyola Marymount on Sunday night. LMU didn’t deserve to be the #10 team in the country as they were in the initial release of the NET rankings but they’re a solid mid-major and UCLA did what a Pac-12 contender should do to that type of team at home. Steve Alford’s squad have still only played two teams in the top-125 of KenPom and were squashed in both of them (although both are in the top-10 so not exactly surprising). This Saturday against a similarly ranked Notre Dame team should give us a much better idea of how good they really are.
This week’s games: Saturday vs. #56 Notre Dame
4 (4). Washington Huskies, 6-2
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 12.04 (52nd)
Victory Points: 11 points. Best win: Q2, 71-67 over #78 Texas A&M (N).
Defeat Points: -3 point. Worst Loss: Q2, 66-68 to #55 Minnesota (N).
The Huskies certainly aren’t winning pretty but unlike many of the teams below them on this list, they are still winning. Two of the next 3 games for Washington are against top-15 teams away from home so they have the ability to make a giant statement. Win at least one of them and you stay on the right side of the bubble. Lose both and it may take a 13-5 type record in conference play to feel good about an at large berth.
This week’s games: Wednesday vs. #5 Gonzaga, Sunday vs. #191 Seattle
5 (6). Oregon State Beavers, 6-1
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 9.58 (67th)
Victory Points: 10 points. Best win: Q2, 61-56 over #94 Old Dominion (N).
Defeat Points: -2 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 63-69 to #89 Missouri (N).
The Beavers have been the next biggest surprise in the Pac-12 besides Arizona. JUCO transfer Kylor Kelley has been one of the best shot blockers in the country and done just enough on offense to keep them from feeling the loss of Drew Eubanks very acutely. OSU’s next two games are at Saint Louis and home against Texas A&M. A 2-0 record in those and the Beavs likely enter Pac-12 play at 11-1 and a legitimate contender in the conference.
This week’s games: Sunday at #74 Saint Louis
6 (9). Colorado Buffaloes, 6-1
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 10.66 (60th)
Victory Points: 7 points. Best win: Q3, 82-58 over #158 South Dakota (H).
Defeat Points: -2 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 64-70 to #106 San Diego (A).
The Buffs have been winning games which is commendable but they have played an absolutely pillow soft schedule. Only a single Colorado opponent has been ranked in the top-150 and Colorado lost that game. I think this team is more likely to be legit than not but there’s not really a good way to know. That won’t change soon either. The Buffs compete in the Diamond Head Classic starting in 2.5 weeks and if they keep winning might get to play #126 Illinois State, #144 UNLV, and #44 TCU. If they can win that tournament they’ll move up the ranks in a big way but until then the best they can do is to keep getting empty calories.
This week’s games: Saturday vs. #193 Illinois Chicago, Tuesday at #130 New Mexico
7 (2). Oregon Ducks, 4-3
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 16.07 (33rd)
Victory Points: 7 points. Best win: Q1, 80-65 over #17 Syracuse (N).
Defeat Points: -6 point. Worst Loss: Q4, 84-89 to #229 Texas Southern (H).
Oof. What a couple of weeks for the Ducks. Oregon dropped a gimme at home to Texas Southern and then couldn’t quite pull off the comeback in Houston during the unveiling of their new arena. 5-star SF freshman Louis King still hasn’t played a minute for the Ducks and he will undoubtedly make a difference for them. The initial timeline was a 12/1 return bu now it looks like it’ll be another couple of weeks. If he comes back at less than 100% the Ducks could be in trouble because the whole has not been equal to the sum of its parts for Oregon this far.
This week’s games: Saturday vs. #198 Nebraska Omaha
8 (8). Stanford Cardinal, 4-4
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 7.26 (95th)
Victory Points: 5 points. Best win: Q3, 72-59 over #202 UNC Wilmington (A).
Defeat Points: -4 points. Worst Loss: Q1, 49-72 to #23 Florida (N).
Oh, what could have been. Stanford was poised to pull the massive upset over Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse but didn’t foul up 3 and Lagerald Vick nailed the game tying basket to send it to OT and the Jayhawks eventually conquered the Cardinal. They’ve has played one of the most difficult schedules in the country with road games at Kansas and North Carolina plus neutral games against Wisconsin and Florida. If they win just one of them then you could say there’s a chance they sneak into at large consideration with another 3rd place Pac-12 finish. But now the best non-con opponent they have left is a road game at San Francisco and it’s not hard to imagine them entering conference play with 0 wins over top-175 teams.
This week’s games: NONE
9 (7). USC Trojans, 5-3
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 10.20 (63rd)
Victory Points: 5 points. Best win: Q4, 99-80 over #220 Missouri State (N).
Defeat Points: -4 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 82-78 to #73 Vanderbilt (H).
The Trojans put up a fight against Nevada last Saturday but with Kevin Porter limited they didn’t have the firepower to stick around in that game. Between the health issues and the schedule it’s been tough to gauge how good USC really is. They’ve played 3 teams in the top-100 and lost to all of them and then played 5 teams 200 or worse and beaten all of them. We’ll know a lot more 2 weeks from now after they play #44 TCU and #38 Oklahoma. If they lose both then USC is basically already eliminated from an at large NCAA berth.
This week’s games: Friday vs. #44 TCU
10 (10). Utah Utes, 4-3
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 5.49 (117th)
Victory Points: 6 points. Best win: Q3, 75-66 over #137 Grand Canyon (N).
Defeat Points: -6 point. Worst Loss: Q4, 79-90 to #207 Hawaii (N).
I always try to give Larry Krystkowiak the benefit of the doubt but this Utah team might finally put him into rebuild mode. Why? It doesn’t help that Utah is 348th in the country in steal percentage which means they can’t generate extra possessions or transition opportunities. The loss to sub-200 Hawaii was brutal even if it was a psuedo-road game. Pac-12 teams just can’t be down by 20+ points in the 2nd half to an opponent of that caliber. They’ve rebounded with solid wins against Grand Canyon and Tulsa but this looks like a team destined for a 7-11 conference record barring rapid improvement. There’s a big winnable game up next against in-state rival BYU who also is having a down year and then a daunting trip to Kentucky lies on the horizon.
This week’s games: Saturday vs. #80 BYU (N)
11 (11). Washington State Cougars, 4-2
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -1.32 (174th)
Victory Points: 4 points. Best win: Q4, 89-72 over #273 Nicholls State (H).
Defeat Points: -5 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 69-78 to #191 Seattle (A).
Ernie Kent knew that this team wouldn’t be very good coming into the year and he certainly scheduled like it. The Cougars play 0 teams from a power football conference outside of league play and have just 3 non-con games scheduled against teams ranked better than 225th nationally. Until they beat a team in the top-200 they’ll be hanging out in the bottom 2 (and will probably be here even if they do). The next chance to do that is a home game against #102 Rider.
This week’s games: Wednesday vs. #245 Idaho, Sunday vs. #311 Montana State
12 (12). California Golden Bears, 2-4
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -0.22 (163rd)
Victory Points: 2 point. Best win: Q4, 80-66 over #227 Hampton (H).
Defeat Points: -6 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 76-59 to #86 Yale (N).
Cal is the only team in the conference with a losing record but it’s not exactly hard to see why. Give Wyking Jones credit for creating an ambitious schedule but the Bears haven’t been up to the task and have taken their lumps. 6 of Cal’s first 8 games qualify as Q1 or Q2. The only team in the country I can find with anything close to as difficult an opening stretch is Gonzaga where 7 of their first 11 are Q1 or Q2 games. Obviously though the Zags only schedule like that because they know they won’t see competition in conference play. I was about to say that isn’t Cal’s problem although in this year’s Pac-12 it might be. The Bears are only favored in 4 games the rest of the way per KenPom. They’ll probably win more than that but not by much.
This week’s games: Wednesday vs. #61 San Francisco, Saturday vs. #62 San Diego State
The NCAA selection committee will once again be using the quadrant system rather than the simple record vs the top-50 and top-100 they used historically. Here’s the definition for each of the tiers if you want a refresher. The NET replaces the RPI this season but until we have access to those rankings I’m using KenPom to determine which quadrant a game falls into.
Q1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75
Q2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135
Q3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240
Q4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus.
I’m including Victory and Defeat points as a shorthand for a team’s resume this year. You earn 4 Victory points for a Q1 win, 3 for a Q2 win, etc. The opposite is true for Defeat Points where you lose 4 points for a Q4 loss, 3 points for a Q3 loss, etc. The higher your net point total the better your resume.
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