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Pac-12 Men's Basketball Weekly Whiparound

The Pac-12 hasn't failed to once again be completely incomprehensible heading towards the final week of the first half of league play. Chaos reigns, and going fast seems to help.

TEAMS

CONFERENCE

OVERALL

LAST GAME

NEXT GAME

Best Win (Ken Pom Rating)

Oregon

5-2

16-4

W86-72 UCLA

@ ARIZONA

1/28ESPN2

Valparaiso (24)

Washington

5-2

13-6

L75-80 UTAH

@ UCLA

1/28FOX Sports 1

USC (27)

Arizona

4-3

16-4

L73-74 CAL

VS Oregon

1/28ESPN2

Gonzaga (40)

Colorado

4-3

15-5

W75-70 WSU

VS Stanford

1/27Pac-12 Networks

Oregon (23)

USC

4-3

15-5

L70-85 ORST

VS Wasghington State

1/28Pac-12 Networks

Arizona (12)

Utah

4-3

15-5

W80-75 WASH

VS Cal 

1/27ESPNU

Duke (19)

Cal

4-3

14-6

W74-73 ARIZ

@ Utah

1/27ESPNU

Arizona (12)

Stanford

4-3

11-7

W75-73 ASU

@ Colorado

1/27Pac-12 Networks

Cal (37)

Oregon State

3-4

12-6

W85-70 USC

@ Arizona State

1/28Pac-12 Networks

Oregon (23)

UCLA

3-4

12-8

L72-86 ORE

VS Washington

1/28FOX Sports 1

Arizona (12)

Arizona State

1-6

11-9

L73-75 STAN

VS Oregon State

1/28Pac-12 Networks

Texas A&M (7)

Washington State

1-6

9-10

L70-75 COLO

@ USC

1/28Pac-12 Networks

UCLA (61)

 

If there’s one way where college basketball has college football licked, it’s with regard to scheduling.   In college basketball, scheduling boldly out of conference is not a life or death risk, which means that more and more teams are willing to do it.  The Pac-12 did so this year, and for its troubles sits as the fifth-highest rated conference according to Jeff Sagarin.

                One of the interesting points so far in the table above is that most of the teams in the conference have a conference opponent as a best win.  That’s not to suggest that the Pac-12 didn’t beat anybody in the non-conference.  The CoC has wins over Duke, Kentucky, and Wichita State, among others, so it’s not like there aren’t solid resume builders around the league.  ASU, at the bottom of the league, literally has the best non-conference win in the entire Pac-12, a victory over Texas A&M.

                The point is that it’s good that the Pac-12 is enjoying a decent reputation, because it’s up to its old routine of chaotic carnage now that league play has commenced.  Eight teams are 4-3 or better, and six teams are within one loss column game of the two teams who currently occupy the top spots .  Oregon looks legit, but they’ve been felled already by the Beavers while Arizona isn’t even at the top of the league yet enjoys the highest KenPom rating in the conference.

                So what happens next?  Who knows?  It’s not likely that we’re going to get much clarity this weekend.  Eventually you’d think the conference would evolve into a somewhat clearer set of tiers, but as the front nine comes to a close this weekend, there’s no separating the Judge Smails’ from the Carl Spacklers.  It’s all the usual dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria that endears the Pac-12 to its fans and draws raised eyebrows from outsiders who only check the box scores from games out west.

                Given the kookiness, let’s take a look at each team and try to parse at least why they’re succeeding (or not).

Team

ORtg (Conference Rank)

DRtg (Conference Rank)

Oregon

 

112.3 (2)

104 (7)

Washington

107.1 (4)

109.5 (9)

Arizona

119.1 (1)

104.2 (8)

Colorado

101.6 (10)

101.6 (3)

USC

106.5 (6)

103.7 (6)

Utah

100.8 (11)

100.7 (1)

Cal

106.8 (5)

102.7 (4)

Stanford

98.7 (12)

101.4 (2)

OSU

102 (9)

103 (5)

UCLA

109.7 (3)

113.6 (11)

ASU

105.6 (7)

111.5 (10)

WSU

103.7 (8)

117.7 (12)

 

Oregon-  The Go-Go Ducks are at again, playing their style and executing crisply enough to offset below average defense.  Dana Altman has done a fantastic job on the court of instilling a philosophy and realizing it with the players he’s recruited.  This is not the most talented team in the conference, but they are going to once again be a tournament team and a tough out at that.

Washington- Coach Romar has put on the jets and set Husky 1 to Ludicrous Speed.  It’s paid off so far, as the Huskies have used the conference’s fastest pace (and the nation’s fifth-fastest) to zoom to the top of the standings.  Questions remain about the sustainability of the success, however, as the Dawgs are currently running a deficit with their DRtg at 109.5.  So far, so good though….

Arizona- As usual the ‘Cats are succeeding, but in a different way than the usual method in the Miller Era.  This is the worst Arizona defensive team since Miller took over, but the Wildcats have overcome that with the Pac-12’s most efficient offense.  You’d expect Miller to keep emphasizing the need for defense in Tucson, but will it take?

Colorado- The Buffs defend, give them that.  Colorado is the 3rd-rated defensive unit in the league, and that’s propping up an offense that struggles even with George King’s solid shooting and Josh Scott anchoring the post.  The loss of Askia Booker seems to have quelled the chemistry issues Colorado endured last season.

USC- The Trojans' middling performance on both offense and defense in league play doesn’t detract from one of the best Tournament resumes in the league.  In addition to the win against Arizona, USC's neutral court win over Wichita State has them sitting pretty even as part of the middling 4-3 Zone of the standings.  Coach Enfield has USC playing at a jet-fast pace, and it seems to have suited the Trojan roster.

Utah- Like their Rocky Mountain Buffalo Brethren, the Utes do it with defense.  Utah’s got the best defense in the league, which is good because its offense has ground to a virtual halt with the departure of Senior Delon Wright.  Coach K won his battle of namesakes, a win that has the Utes on solid ground for a Tournament berth right now.

Cal- The Golden Bears’ floundering in league play got a big shot in the arm with a win against Arizona.  Cal doesn’t excel particularly, but they are top half in both offense and defense, which they should be with the talent at Coach Martin’s disposal.  Keep an eye on the next two weeks, as Cal has the treacherous Rocky Mountain Roadie and then a rematch at Haas with Stanford.  Cal still seems like a solid Tournament bet, but this fortnight will be a test of their legitimacy.

Stanford- The conference’s most putrid offense is being held afloat by its second-best defense.  The Cardinal experienced some defensive slippage in the second half of each of its last two games, and a resumption of that decline will undoubtedly end in a Lost Weekend in the Rockies that may end up making Stanford feel like they stayed at the Overbrook Hotel.

Oregon State- The Beavs remain offensively challenged, though they are improved at that end from last year.  It would seem that the pace increase from the 30-second shot clock has helped Oregon State leave its peach-basket, jump ball after each score Era offense, though they aren’t exactly lighting it up to this point, either.   The Tournament seems unlikely, but it’s by no means out of the realm of possibility, which is an accomplishment in Year 2 of Tinkle Time.

UCLA- Through seven games, this is without question the most disappointing team in the conference, and there’s no mystery why.  The Bruins continue to score very well, but they guard like a quintet of corpses.  No team this talented should be 11th in defense, yet that’s where they sit.  This Second Era of Steve is starting to feel like the first one, so of course UCLA will slog their way through February only to surge to another Sweet Sixteen appearance.

Arizona State- Coach Bobby Hurley seems destined to blow a gasket before this season ends.  He’s already lost seemingly more games than he did in his entire playing time at Duke, and it’s defense that’s killing his team.  Opponents are scorching the Sun Devils to the tune of a 110.5 rating, and while ASU is not terrible on offense, they are below average at 105.6 and that’s not a recipe for anything but their 1-6 Pac-12 record.

Washington State- Defense continues to be as rare as a surge in tourism on the Palouse.  Perhaps Coach Ernie Kent should follow the Pirate’s path and bring in a new defensive coordinator.  This is the worst defense in the league (117.7) by a sizable margin, and there’s no indication that anything is likely to change soon.

                To quote a fictional Congressman, this conference’s crazier than a dog in a hubcap factory.  Right now, there are far too many questions as the league prepares to make the turn, but that’s what keeps us coming back to watch this darned Pac-12 Comedy perpetuate itself, right?  With Oregon and Washington both playing tough road games (in Tucson and Westwood) on Thursday, it seems like the picture’s about to get even more muddled.  Amidst all this chaos, I leave you with Warrior-Poet Ty Webb, who once said, “A flute with no holes is not a flute.  And a donut with no holes, is a Danish.”


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