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Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Resume Rankings

Where do things stand as conference play starts this week? (Not great, Bob)

Washington v Arizona Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

We have reached Christmas day which means that conference play is right around the corner and it’s a good time to stop and take stock of where the Pac-12 is positioned. Unfortunately, the answer is that things are somewhere between disaster and tire fire. Arizona looks like a legitimate national title contender. There’s also not another team in the league that I’d feel comfortable projecting to have better than a 60% chance to make the big dance.

I ranked teams here by resume points which are a rough assessment of each team’s accomplishments so far using the NCAA’s quadrant system. Each team gets +4 points for a Q1 win, +3 points for a Q2 win etc. They also get -1 points for a Q1 loss, -2 points for a Q2 loss, etc. That means winning easy buy games don’t help you all that much and losing tough neutral/road games don’t hurt you very much. But eventually you have to win a tough game or two if you want to make the tournament and that has been a struggle.

1. Arizona Wildcats: 22 resume points, 9-2 record, #2 in NET Rankings

Best Win: at #18 Duke 78-73; Worst Loss: Semi-Away vs. #4 Purdue 92-84

My model had Arizona as the #1 overall team in the country entering the season which seemed a little far-fetched. That’s no longer the case as Arizona played one of the most ambitious non-conference schedules in the country and came out looking great on the other end. The Wildcats went 4-2 in Q1 games with both losses coming by single digits against fellow top-ten teams (and the last one coming by a single point in double OT). Wins over Duke, Michigan State, and Alabama probably looked better coming into the year than they do now but are still of high quality.

I’ll admit I was dubious when Arizona handed the keys over to UNC transfer Caleb Love who was the definition of an inefficient volume shooter at Chapel Hill. But he is averaging career highs in field goal percentage and assists per game playing a more well-rounded team game. It has been a well-rounded team outside of Love with the other 4 starters all averaging at least 12 points per game.

2. Utah Utes: 15 resume points, 9-2 record, #23 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Home vs. #5 BYU 73-69; Worst Loss: Neutral vs. #55 St. John’s 91-82

It wasn’t hard to see that Utah was going to make a jump in their second year under head coach Craig Smith and that’s exactly what has happened. They have made the most of their more challenging opportunities for the most part so far as the only team to defeat BYU and some solid wins at Saint Mary’s and on a neutral against Wake Forest. A loss to #1 Houston is certainly reasonable. The neutral site loss to St. John’s is less so but obviously not a killer.

Star center Branden Carlson hasn’t taken a leap as a super senior for Utah but has kept up his averages from last year putting up 16.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The bigger improvement has come from Gabe Madsen in his second year since transferring in from Cincinnati who is averaging 14.2 points per game on scorching 46% 3-point shooting. Husky transfer Cole Bajema has fit in seamlessly averaging a career high 9.6 points per game on 36.2% 3-point shooting.

3. Washington Huskies: 10 resume points, 8-3 record, #60 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Home vs. #44 Gonzaga 78-73, Worst Loss: Home vs. #36 Nevada 83-76

The Huskies tried their hardest in the last 2 weeks to pick up the type of resume-killing loss that has plagued them in recent seasons. But the Dawgs survived with a 100-99 2OT win over Seattle U and came back from a halftime deficit to knock off Eastern Washington.

There were 5 games of note on the non-conference schedule with neutral tilts against Xavier, San Diego State, and Colorado State plus home games against Nevada and Gonzaga. Washington needed to go at least 2-3 plus sweep the rest to keep alive reasonable hopes of an NCAA at-large berth. They did exactly that with each of them decided by 7 points or less.

Guard transfers Sahvir Wheeler and Paul Mulcahy have been as advertised getting the Huskies to actually pass the ball. Wheeler is leading the conference in assists with 7.1 per game while Mulcahy is 4th at 5.1 per contest. Keion Brooks Jr. picked up right where he left off at the end of last year leading the conference with 20.1 points per game.

4. Colorado Buffaloes: 9 resume points, 9-2 record, #33 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Neutral vs. Miami 90-63; Worst Loss: Neutral vs. Florida State 77-71 OT

Colorado’s resume looks a lot better when you factor in margin of victory rather than just who they’ve beaten. The Buffs have just two wins over teams in the top-100 at KenPom but one of them was a 27 point dismantling of last year Final Four team Miami. All but one of their wins (neutral vs. Richmond) have come by at least 17 points.

A close road loss to Colorado State feels bad from a rivalry perspective but CSU is very good this year as Husky fans know. The perplexing one was an overtime slip-up against Florida State in which Colorado shot just 5/20 from three-point range.

Colorado has had one of the best offenses in the country sparked by KJ Simpson. He’s only averaging 4 more points per game than last year (15.9 to 19.9) but is doing so on remarkably better efficiency (40/28/81 FG/3pt/FT% to 58/49/90). Tristan da Silva is putting up almost identical scoring and rebounding numbers to last season but has more than doubled his assists per game to be in contention for an all-conference spot.

t-5. Washington State Cougars: 8 resume points, 9-2 record, #45 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Semi-Home over #76 Boise State 66-61; Worst Loss: Neutral vs. #121 Santa Clara 69-61

The Cougars were picked 10th in the preseason media poll but look to be better than that projection so far. They’ve got a gaudy win-loss record but that’s largely because they’ve played just the 329th ranked schedule in the country. Wazzu is just 1-2 against teams ranked better than 150th at KenPom but will have 16 more of those games the rest of the way. Their best win came in their most recent one last week against Boise State. But their worst loss was in the game before that against a solid but not great Santa Clara squad.

Idaho transfer Isaac Jones has been better than advertised so far averaging 15.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game but we’ll see if he can keep it up in conference play. The Cougars’ second leading scorer is also one of the best stories in college basketball. Myles Rice missed all of last season undergoing treatment for cancer but has returned to the court and is averaging 15.5 points per game on 38.1% 3-point shooting.

t-5. Oregon Ducks: 8 resume points, 8-3 record, #71 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Home over Michigan 86-83 OT; Neutral vs. #121 Santa Clara 88-82

Oh look, another team that lost to Santa Clara (SCU is 3-1 against the Pac-12 but somehow their one loss is to by far the worst in the Pac). Oregon has yet again had an injury-plagued season. Star center N’Faly Dante was only able to play in the season opener and has been out since. His backup Nate Bittle has only played 3 games and may be out for the season. Top recruit Mookie Cook hasn’t played. That has been big in contributing to a very meh start for the Ducks.

Oregon has wins over 6 teams in the top-200 at KenPom but a trio of neutral court losses with only one against a truly good team (Alabama). And yet even Alabama’s best win is over Oregon because they’re 0-5 against top-25 teams.

Jermaine Cousinard is the only Duck scorer in the top-30 in the conference in points per game so far at 13.1. Oregon’s freshmen Kwame Evans and Jackson Shelstad have both been fine but neither looks to be a true difference maker yet.

7. Oregon State Beavers: 4 resume points, 7-3 record, #194 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Home vs. #82 Appalachian State 81-71 OT; Neutral vs. #57 Nebraska 84-63

Has Oregon State played a super difficult non-conference schedule? No. But you have to give the Beavers credit that they’re undefeated in Quad 4 games so far that they’ve dropped in recent years. That’s not without trying though. Oregon State needed double overtime to beat both #254 Troy and #301 Cal Poly at home. Yet they won both games.

The 3 losses all came in the same week on a neutral court against power conference teams by 15+ points: Nebraska, Baylor, and Pittsburgh. Based on the advanced stats it doesn’t look like Oregon State is likely to win very many games in conference play but they aren’t an absolute anchor to everyone’s resume like they were last year.

Jordan Pope has taken a leap as a sophomore scoring 16.9 points per game on 39.1% 3-point shooting and looks like he will continue to be the one building block for Wayne Tinkle on that roster.

8. Arizona State Sun Devils: 3 resume points, 6-5 record, #149 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Home vs. #47 San Francisco 72-61; Worst Loss: at #193 San Diego 89-84

Every year it seems Bobby Hurley is on the hot seat but he manages to start out with some big wins in the non-conference before falling apart at some point during conference play. Well not this year. The Sun Devils played an ambitious schedule but went just 2-4 against top-50 KenPom teams and also lost at a bad San Diego team (USD not UCSD or SDSU).

Frankie Collins was expected to be ASU’s best player coming into the year and probably has been but is averaging just 10.9 points and 3.5 assists per game. He is leading the conference in steals at 3.0 per game as part of a very good defense but the offense as a whole has been borderline unwatchable.

9. USC Trojans- 2 resume points, 6-5 record, #80 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Neutral over #87Kansas State 82-69; Worst Loss: Home vs. #116 Long Beach State 84-79 OT

Most outlets had USC as the favorites going into this season by virtue of enrolling the #1 rated prospect in the country and pairing him with Boogie Ellis. That hasn’t exactly worked out. The Trojans have played a pretty challenging schedule but have happened to lose all their toughest games and also drop a couple of easier wins. They have home losses to both UC Irvine and Long Beach State who are each good teams but shouldn’t be beating this USC team. The other losses to Oklahoma, Gonzaga, and Auburn are all reasonable but not if you expected to be a top-15 team.

It’s not as if there are no wins here. Neutral site victories over Kansas State and Seton Hall are both very solid. They put up 106 points on the Eastern Washington team that pushed UW to the brink last week. Otherwise it’s a trio of wins over D1 bottom feeders.

Boogie Ellis has lived up to his part of the deal so far averaging 19.5 points per game on a blistering 44.2% 3-point shooting. Isaiah Collier hasn’t exactly been bad putting up 16.1 points and 4.3 assists per game but only one other player is averaging at least 7 points per game as it’s a two-man show.

10. Stanford Cardinal: -6 resume points, 5-5 record, #153 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Home vs. #181 Eastern Washington 95-70; Worst Loss: Home vs. #121 Santa Clara 89-77

After Jerod Haase missed the NCAA tournament for his 8th straight year it seemed inconceivable that Stanford would bring him back as head coach. Yet they did and the Cardinal are well on their way to a 9th straight tourney miss. It’s not exactly a great sign when you enter conference play without even a top-175 win. Stanford has beaten the 5 worst teams on their schedule and lost to the 5 best teams on their schedule. It seems pretty clear where they are as a team.

In fairness, they’ve been close. They took Arkansas to double overtime. It was a one-possession game late into the 2nd half against Michigan. Stanford’s best player has also missed 4 games while fellow starter Brandon Angel has missed a pair. But this is clearly just not a very good team.

The one bright spot for Stanford has been the emergence of 7’1 center Maxime Reynaud who has improved from 8.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game to 14.6 points and 9.1 rebounds this year.

11. UCLA Bruins: -7 resume points, 4-6 record, #173 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Home vs. #256 UC Riverside 66-65; Worst Loss: Home vs. #179 Cal State Northridge 76-72

I’ll admit to being a little concerned that my model was going to make me look stupid when it picked UCLA to finish 8th in the Pac-12. Maybe it will look stupid but because it gave UCLA too much credit. The Bruins have one of the worst slate of wins in the country for a power conference team. They are yet to win a game outside of Q4 this season and not only that, they haven’t beaten a team in the top-250.

That’s partly because they played a tough schedule with losses to Marquette, Villanova, Ohio State, Gonzaga, and Maryland. They also got stuck playing Chaminade at Maui to deny them a chance at another D1 win. But then they turned around and lost to Cal State Northridge at home in a game they trailed by 14 points at halftime. Unless UCLA goes undefeated in Pac-12 play there’s essentially 0 chance at an NCAA at large berth with this resume.

UCLA’s leading scorer is 4-star freshman Sebastian Mack at 15.5 points per game but he’s doing it on terrible efficiency shooting under 40% from the field and under 27% on 3’s. International import Aday Mara was supposed to be a stud but is shooting under 50% from the field at 7’3 with rebounding rates you’d expect from a 6’7 power forward. Yikes.

12. California Golden Bears: -14 resume points, 4-7 record, #224 in NET Rankings

Best Win: Home vs. #121 Santa Clara 84-69; Worst Loss: Home vs. #356 Pacific 87-79

I was optimistic that Mark Madsen had imported enough from the transfer portal that California would actually be competitive this season. And you could argue at times that they have been. They’ve beaten 3 teams ranked between 100-200 at KenPom although all were at home. They also took San Diego State to overtime before losing by 9 and a decent Butler team to double overtime. They also have a home loss to Pacific who lost by 50 points at Nevada earlier and are 1-8 against top-280 opponents with the one win coming over Cal.

Cal’s transfers have at least been putting up numbers. They have 3 of the top-8 scorers in the conference on a points per game basis. Jaylon Tyson is averaging 19.4 points and 7 rebounds per game. His fellow Texas Tech transfer Fardaws Aimaq is averaging 16.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game (the rebounds mark leads the conference). And Northern Arizona import Jalen Cone has 16.3 points per game. No one else on the team is averaging even 6 points per game as it is a complete 3-man show.

*****

We’re already running way long but I wanted to squeeze in my current all-conference picks just minus some actual analysis along with it. The Pac-12 stupidly does a 10-person 1st-team but I always list 3 teams with rosters that actually make some sense if they played together.

Current All-Pac-12 First Team

G- KJ Simpson, Colorado (19.9 pts, 4.5 reb, 4.5 ast, 58/49/90%)

G- Boogie Ellis, USC (19.5 pts, 3.9 reb, 3.1 ast, 45/44/77%)

F- Keion Brooks Jr., Washington (20.1 pts, 7.6 reb, 1.5 ast, 49/39/81%)

F- Branden Carlson, Utah (16.8 pts, 6.2 reb, 1.2 blk, 48/36/80%)

C- Oumar Ballo, Arizona (12.9 pts, 6.8 reb, 0.8 blk, 65/0/45%)

Current All-Pac-12 Second Team

G- Caleb Love, Arizona (15.5 pts, 5.3 reb, 3.9 ast, 41/30/87%)

G- Isaiah Collier, USC (16,1 pts, 2.9 reb, 4.3 ast, 49/30/69%)

F- Tristan da Silva, Colorado (15.7 pts, 5,4 reb, 2.8 ast, 54/39/84%)

F- Isaac Jones, Washington State (15.6 pts, 7.3 reb, 1.0 blk, 63/13/72%)

C- Maxime Raynaud, Stanford (14.6 pts, 9.1 reb, 0.7 blk, 55/14/90%)

Current All-Pac-12 Third Team

G- Jordan Pope, Oregon State (16.9 pts, 2.7 reb, 3.4 ast, 44/39/91%)

G- Myles Rice, Washington State (15.5 pts, 2.5 reb, 2.9 ast, 47/38/83%)

F- Keshad Johnson, Arizona (13.6 pts, 6.9 reb, 1.7 ast, 56/36/79%)

F-Jaylon Tyson, California (19.4 pts, 7.0 reb, 3.5 ast, 48/33/79%)

C- Adem Bona, UCLA (12.1 pts, 6.5 reb, 1.4 blk, 57/0/61%)