Kevo's "Pac-10 Round-ball Round-up"

To keep us all up-to-date on the ongoing action involving our various Pac-10 conference rivals, The Bootleg's Men's Basketball writer Kevin "Kevo" Danna continues his weekly hoops coverage and provides us with the "Kevo Power Rankings", a proprietary, unique and debate-worthy estimation of the current conference power structure.

Before we get into what each team did in the conference last week, I would like to compare the Pac-10 to other conferences.  I know this isn't the best basis, but here are the NON-CONFERENCE records for each conference, just to give you a little idea where the Pac stands:

1. Big 12: 91-20
2. Big East: 117-27
3. ACC: 75-23
4. SEC: 76-28
5. Mountain West Conference: 60-24
6. Missouri Valley Conference: 60-24
7. Conference USA: 65-27
8. Big Ten: 71-32
9. Atlantic 10: 86-42
10. Pac-10: 50-36
11. Horizon League: 44-33
12. WAC: 44-34
13. MAAC: 42-35
14. Big West: 39-33
15. WCC: 41-38
16. Southland: 53-50
17. Colonial Athletic Association: 47-46
18. Big Sky: 36-37
19. Sun Belt: 56-58
20. MAC: 48-52
21. Ohio Valley: 35-39
22. Summit League: 37-42
23. Southern Conference: 41-47
24. Ivy League: 33-38
25. Big South: 32-37
26. America East: 35-54
27. Atlantic Sun: 27-45
28. MEAC: 32-57
29. Patriot League: 27-50
30. Great West: 19-47
31. Independents: 17-47
32. NEC: 23-66
33. SWAC: 14-64

So while this ignores strength of schedule and does not take into account any wins against non-D1 opponents that some of these schools might have had (I can tell you off the top of my head that the vast majority of SWAC, Independents, Great West and MEAC victories are against D2 schools or lower), I'd say it slots the Pac-10 just about right.  Overall, the Pac-10 is probably 9th or 10th best.  I saw one online posting that had them ranked 8th with the 6th best conference strength of schedule, but there are at least a few mid-major conferences that are having stronger pre-seasons than the Pac (any errors in non-conf records can be blamed on me, as I just added up every conference myself thanks to the standings on espn.com.  I did not count conference games), and I think those conferences are represented accurately in those records above.  I'm not so sure about the C-USA and A-10, but I haven't watched any games with their schools participating so I'll hold judgment.  But on with the article; let's take a look at what each team did over the last week:

ARIZONA (4-5): The week got off to a good start with an 83-67 win over Louisiana Tech.  I know what you're thinking, "Louisiana Tech sucks."  In truth, however, WAC's Bulldog squad outside of California is off to a 6-3 start and will definitely be a factor in a highly-competitive Western Athletic Conference.  There are probably five or six teams that have a shot at making the postseason in the WAC this year, and LA Tech is certainly one of them.  They might not have Karl Malone anymore, but they can still play.  Plus, any win the Pac can get against a WCC/WAC school right now is a plus.  However, the Wildcats were unable to get back on the right side of .500 with a 63-46 loss to the Aztecs of San Diego State.  Now, the Aztecs are a very good team, but Arizona hadn't lost to them in over two decades prior to Saturday night.  Nobody could have expected smooth sailing in Sean Miller's first year, so their 4-5 start isn't much of a surprise considering the competition they have faced.  In nine games, they have faced four BCS conference opponents and two MWC foes (and to be completely honest, the MWC should be a BCS school.  They are so good that their conference is not recognized by colleginsider.com's Mid-Major Top-25 poll).  Tough schedule, and their record shows it.

Up next for the Wildcats: nothing until next week

ARIZONA STATE (7-3): The Mountain West struck again with BYU's 81-68 victory over the Sun Devils.  This game was closer than the score indicated as the lead for the Cougars was around 6-8 points for the majority of the second half.  And it was in Provo, so this loss is understandable, but it's a big sign of the times when you almost expect an MWC school to knock off a Pac-10 constituent.  Herb Sendek and company rebounded nicely Saturday with a 76-34 demolishing of Delaware State.  I hope the approximately $50,000 warms the Hornets' stomach, because the 12 first-half points sure didn't.  I think everyone (myself included) has underestimated how dangerous the Sun Devils can be in the Pac-10 this year.  With Derek Glasser, Rihards Kuksiks, Eric Boateng, and a couple of nice freshmen, including Trent Lockett, this team will more than compete in conference play and can easily finish in the top-half.

Up next for the Sun Devils: vs. San Diego State (12.19 - time for the other ‘Zona school to have a crack at those Aztecs!)

CAL (6-3): The Golden Bears finally won a game outside of Haas Pavilion with a 79-54 romp of Pacific on Wednesday night in Stockton.  The Big West might not be a strong conference by any stretch of the imagination, but Pacific is consistently solid, played in the postseason last year, and are 7-2 with wins over USD, SDSU, and Nevada.  I consider this a huge victory for Cal.  Not only do they get that road monkey off their back, but they did so in a big way.  Theo Robertson was back in action and dropped in eight points off the bench in 22 minutes.  Word is that Theo is not feeling any pain and is 100%, which is HUGE for Monty and The Gang.  No Harper Kamp yet, but Cal is nearing full-strength, and when they do, watch out.  Forget tradition and rivalry, I love Cal's squad.

Up next for the Golden Bears: no game until they visit Lawrence, Kansas on the 22nd!

OREGON (4-4): Just one game as well for the Ducks, and it was an 81-76 loss to St. Mary's on Mac Court.  Make that three years in a row now that Oregon has lost to the Gaels.  This also couldn't have come as a surprise considering how good Saint Mary's is this season even without Patty Mills (don't worry, the spirit of Australia is still strong in Moraga with five Aussies under the tutelage of Randy Bennett!).  Also, the Pac-10 has had serious struggles against the WCC this season and Oregon really hasn't been playing their best basketball.  It was good to see that this was a close game though, and the Ducks definitely took a step in the right direction after losing by 37 to Missouri.

Up next for the Ducks: vs. Mississippi Valley State (12.16 - this should get Oregon back on the winning track with ease), vs. Oakland (12.19 - they've lost to these guys two years in a row).

OREGON STATE (4-4): Also a one-game week for the Beavers, and also a loss.  For Oregon State, it was a 50-44 defeat at the hands of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  Although Nebraska is more known for their football, their basketball team has been solid for quite some time now and knocked off USC at the Galen Center as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series (the OSU-Nebraska match-up, however, was not.  It is just a return-trip made by the Beavers, who knocked off the Huskers last year at Gill).  Nebraska is 7-2 with their only losses on the road at Saint Louis and Creighton, a couple of good mid-major programs.

Up next for the Beavers: @ Illinois-Chicago (12.16 - this game could spell disaster for Oregon State), vs. Mississippi Valley State (12.19 - this game won't)

UCLA (2-6): Like last weekend, UCLA played against a power conference school in Southern California.  Like last weekend, they lost by double-digits.  Unlike last weekend, this game was never really close. UCLA was thoroughly outplayed in a 72-54 loss at the hands of the Mississippi State Bulldogs.  While Jarvis Vanardo's team is certainly not a group of slouches, I expected more from the Bruins after a very positive showing against the #1 team in the country just six days earlier.  It was 40-19 Bulldogs at the half, and the lead was consistently at 23-24 points for the rest of the afternoon.  On the bright side, I'm still a Reeves Nelson fan, always and forever.

Up next for the Bruins: vs. New Mexico State (12.15), @ Notre Dame (12.19)

USC (4-4): Two wins in as many games for the Trojans over the past week with victories over Sacramento State and Idaho State, a couple of Big Sky schools.  Their triumphs weren't that impressive, only scoring 51 against the Hornets and beating the Bengals by just six (Idaho State is 2-8 by the way).  I'm a big fan of Kevin O'Neill, but it is going to take him some time to get that ship righted.  A couple of pieces are in place with Vucevic, Alex Stephenson, and Dwight Lewis, but Lewis will be gone after this year.  This recruiting class is going to be huge for O'Neill.  No playing time for Lil Romeo in these two games either.  Boo.

Up next for the Trojans: vs. Tennessee (12.19 - this will be a minor miracle if the Trojans can pull this one off, but I expect it to be pretty close).

WASHINGTON (6-2): The Huskies had a big test on Saturday against Top-15 Georgetown at the John Wooden Classic, and they did not put their best foot forward.  A game that was 30-29 at halftime got pushed out to a 20-point advantage quickly in the 2nd half and the Huskies were never able to fully recover.  The final score was 74-66 thanks to the heart of Isaiah Thomas and Quincy Pondexter, who never let their team quit against the Hoyas.  While this is an athletic bunch, the guys still play with a lot of scrappiness and will bow to no program at the University of Washington.  All of that was evident on Saturday as they slowly chipped away at a 20-point lead and cut it down to six in the final seconds.  Earlier in the week, the Romars knocked off Cal-State Northridge 88-76 (the Matadors aren't quite the team they were a year ago without Josh Jenkins).

Up next for the Huskies: vs. Portland (12.19 - Portland has hit a bit of a dry spell, but the Pilots beat the Huskies in the 2008-2009 season opener)

WASHINGTON STATE (8-2): How many people thought the Cougs would have the best non-conference record in the Pac-10 this late into the season?  Surely not me.  While their schedule hasn't been great, they did destroy USD when the Toreros were hot and really should have defeated Gonzaga.  This was a good week for the Ken Bones, as they knocked off two quality western US schools in Idaho (CIT participant last year and 6-3 this year with wins over Utah on the road and Portland at home) and Air Force (5-3 this year with all losses to pretty good teams in Northern Colorado, Missouri State, and Wazzu).  Klay Thompson continues to dominate, as he is averaging over 25 per to go along with almost six rebounds and three assists.  Reggie Moore is a nice second option offensively, averaging 13.5 a game and leading the team with 4.5 assists.

Up next for the Cougars: vs. Portland State (12.19 - the Vikings have won four straight after losing to Stanford; they've found their mojo!)

Power Rankings for Week of Dec. 7-13:
1. Cal (16 pts)
2. Washington State (14 pts)
3. Washington (12 pts)
4. Arizona State (10 pts)
5. USC  (8 pts- I know they went 2-0, but you have to do better than 59-53 against Idaho State!)
6. Arizona (6 pts)
7. Oregon State (4 pts)
8. Oregon (2 pts)
9. UCLA (0 pts)

Overall Season Power Rankings:
1. Cal (66 pts)
2. Washington (61 pts)
3. Arizona State (58 pts)
4. Washington State (53 pts)
5. Arizona (41 pts)
6. Oregon State (29 pts)
7. Oregon (22 pts)
8. USC (16 pts)
9. UCLA (9 pts)

Check back early next week on TheBootleg.com for another recap of the week that was in non-conference Pac-10 action!

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