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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

December 7, 2006 at 10:00 AM

The Pac is back

It seems to be an annual rite of winter for followers of Pac-10 basketball — as well as coaches and players — to grouse about a lack of national respect.
I don’t think that’s going to be a problem this year, with the conference off to one of its hottest starts, one that is already garnering national attention. In a story you can only get as an ESPN Insider, Andy Katz wrote last Friday that the Pac-10 “is sizzling” and went on to list some of the conference’s virtues this season.
And that was before Tuesday night when Arizona beat Louisville and Washington State upset Gonzaga.
Through Tuesday night, the Pac-10 has a record of 59-14, a much more rapid pace than last year’s 82-36 mark. Half of the Pac-10’s losses have been accumulated by the two teams bringing up the rear — Arizona State (4-3) and Oregon State (4-4).
That means the top eight teams in the conference are 51-7. And none of those losses are to slouch teams — the seven defeats have come against Kansas, Virginia, San Diego State, South Carolina, Nevada, Air Force and Utah.
That’s a far cry from a year ago when USC lost to Cal State-Northridge at home, Stanford to UC-Davis and UC-Irvine and Oregon to Portland and Portland State, to name just a few of the embarassing defeats the conference suffered early.
Teams like Oregon and Washington State, each with basically the entire roster back, are maturing quickly, while the teams at the top don’t appear to have dropped off much, and in the case of Arizona, look better than last season.
A case can even be made that Arizona State is better than many might have thought as the Sun Devils have a win over Iowa and a couple of young freshmen playing well.
Only Oregon State is really underachieving, though the Beavers have a schedule that should have them no worse than 8-5 heading into conference play.
The question come March could be whether the conference deserves six bids to the NCAA Tournament, something that has happened only once, in the 2001-02 season.

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