Pac-10 NCAA Seeding Analysis

With seemingly unprecedented parity in the Pac-10 this year, as well as across Division I basketball, the NCAA seeding picture is understandably unclear. To help break the picture down by the numbers, here is a look at some of the more relevant numbers for the conference's hopefuls today.

As of Saturday's games, here are the relevant RPIs and NCAA seeding numbers in the Pac-10:

RPI SOS Total W/L Road W/L Last 10 W/L range Top 50 Ws Sub-100 Ls
Arizona 11 2 17-8 10-5 8-2 to 4-6 8 0
UCLA 21 10 17-8 7-5 8-2 to 3-7 6 0
U$C 29 73 18-6 8-4 9-1 to 3-7 3 0
Stanford 33 80 17-6 6-4 10-0 to 5-5 4 0
Oregon 34 61 17-7 4-7 8-2 to 3-7 6 3
kal 38 93 18-6 3-5 9-1 to 4-6 3 1
ASU 85 89 14-10 3-7 9-1 to 3-7 4 3

For all the talk by Len "Ignorance is Bliss" Elmore yesterday, ASU sits at RPI #85 right now. Their SOS will get a nice bounce with their remaining three games against Zona, kal and Stanford. Plus they'll play the #2 Pac-10 (most likely) in the first round of the tournament. But you have to figure they have to sweep these next three, and then win one or two games at Staples. Even then, they're still pretty bubblicious at best.

Also noted that for all the bemoaning of the BYU loss, BYU sits at #37 in the RPI right now. Hmm. Texas is #27 as well, and just finished a big win over Missouri in Columbia. Add in the Chris Owens factor to the analysis of that loss and their season, and it looks just fine in OT.

As for the talk of UCLA or kal on the bubble right now, there's no way UCLA is in trouble yet. Their OOC wins against Kansas and 'Bama are phenomenal, and overall SOS is #10. 7-5 away from home, including 'Bama win but also including Ball State and Nova losses. Those teams have RPIs of #67 and #47, respectively. It's near impossible to predict what a Lavin team will do on any given night, and they could go anywhere from 4-0 to 1-3 in their remaining regular season games. They could catch fire, or very reasonably get swept in the Bay Area and drop to Oregon at Pauley. Should they go 1-3, and then perhaps lose the opener in Staples, they'd be 18-12 with a 4-6 finish in their last 10 games. That would be bubbly at the least, but comes only with the worst case scenario. One more win, though, and they'd be breathing easy.

Kal has a legitimate bubble discussion today, though. They really hurt themselves by playing just one OOC away from home in the entire season. Not even a neutral site game! That was at South Florida, and an incredibly embarrassing 20-point loss. Their overall SOS is #93, though it will necessarily improve with games against the LAs and Zona, plus the Pac-10 tournament to come. But they have a lot of very losable games left. I could see them sweeping with the Haas advantage this week, or get swept. They really do control their destiny in these remaining games, but put themselves squarely on the bubble with this Washington loss. Their road record for the entire season is now 3-5. And the Arizonas are yet to come. If they can go 2-2 in these next games, with one of the wins coming on the road, they'll breath a little easier, but still probably feel the pressure to get an opening win at Staples.

I don't think Stanford or Oregon are bubble teams at all right now. Kal alone takes this label. Oregon gets two cupcakes in the Washingtons at home, but then have two huge games at the LAs. Oregon will see their SOS take a small hit, but their number of wins and conference record make them a lock after they sweep the Washingtons. As for seeding, they currently have a 4-7 record away from home. Their undefeated record at Mac Court has really boosted their overall record, but the tournament committee is not going to give them a top 4 seed if they can't get one or two wins in LA. If they get swept down there, they'll need a couple wins at Staples just to get to a 6 seed. Losses to UMass, Portland and U-Dub really, really sting. Overtime losses in the Bay Area kinda feel good, but won't cut the mustard with the selection committee.

Stanford is 6-4 away from home this year, which has felt cruddy to Cardinalmaniacs, but looks downright dandy compared to some of the above numbers. And that will give Stanford a very solid edge in seeding or entry above the likes of kal and Oregon. But note this: Stanford is in the same position as UCLA and kal in that there is a wide range of outcomes that could still come to be. Could Stanford conceivably go anywhere between 4-0 and 0-4 in these games? Yeah. Implosion is still possible. But if Stanford goes even 2-2 in those games, and 1-1 in the Pac-10 tourney, they'll finish the season on a 7-3 run in their final 10 games. Anything better than that will be icing. Winning these home games against the LAs will really put Stanford in a strong position headed to the desert. Note that Stanford is the only team in the conference that has the ability to close the season 10-0 in their final 10 games.

$C is just fighting for seeding right now, but have the same dangerous schedule remaining of UCLA. Anything between 4-0 and 1-3 is totally reasonable. They have Stanford's record overall, and a slightly higher SOS. Like Stanford, their 8-4 record away from home is nice. Too bad for them that they don't have a win against a top-50 RPI team away from home, though. Stanford has two, in contrast. That makes these games in the Bay Area big for them. If they lose both, their seeding will fall like a rock.

Arizona is as lockish as can be, with the #2 SOS in the country, and RPI of #11 even after getting swept in LA. They are done with their games away from McKale this regular season, and went 10-5. That's outstanding, given the quality of those opponents. They could have made a run at a 1 seed if they had done better in LA, but get to close out with all home games in the regular season.

If I had to relatively place these seven teams today in the NCAAs, given their performances to date and range of possible outcomes in remaining games... (my NCAA seeding ranges in parentheses)

Arizona (2-4)
Stanford (2-7)
UCLA (3-8)
U$C (4-9)
Oregon (4-9)
kal (7-12) -- bubble
ASU -- NIT

Note that these ranges are awfully large this late in the season, but that is reflective of the parity in college basketball this year, and the range of W/L outcomes these teams could expect the remainder of the season.


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