If you look solely at the Pac-12’s RPI rating, then it seems as if the conference has gotten off to a great start.
And yet other metrics such as Jeff Sagarin’s ratings draw a different conclusion and rates the Pac-12 fifth in the nation.
Ken Pomeroy, who claims to use advanced analysis, also has the Pac-12 sixth in the country.
Andy Glockner at SI.com, who ranks the Pac-12 seventh among the conferences, writes: “Every team has question marks, but Arizona, UCLA, Colorado and Stanford have solid potential. Cal should be decent. USC is a sleeper. The bottom of the league can’t possibly be as bad as last season.”
I prefer to look at W-L records. You could make a strong argument that the Pac-12 has returned to prominence if you look at the records of the teams at the top of the conference.
Arizona is 6-0 followed by three 7-1 teams (Arizona State, Colorado and Oregon). California also has just one loss.
But there’s no getting around the fact the Pac-12 is 2-10 against ranked teams. Say whatever you will about the fallacy of rankings early in the season, but it’s still an indication of which teams are among the strongest in the nation.
And at that point, the Pac-12 has fared miserably against teams that are considered the best.
RPI ratings will rise and fall over the course of a season. But W-L records against ranked teams won’t change and the Pac-12’s poor showing only reinforces negative opinions among college basketball observers.
The conference desperately needs to have 2-3 ranked teams when league play begins in January or else it’s difficult for teams to improve their RPI and strength of schedule later in the season. That’s what doomed Washington last season when the Huskies won the regular-season title, but didn’t receive a NCAA tournament at-large invitation.
The Pac-12 had just two teams ((No. 11 seed Colorado and No. 12 seed California) in the 2012 NCAA tourney and the league will struggle to do better next year unless it can win some big games this month.
Here’s a look at some important games on tap for the Pac-12.
Colorado at No. 9 Kansas, Dec. 8
USC vs. No. 14 Minnesota, Dec. 8
California vs. No. 21 UNLV, Dec. 9
California vs. No. 16 Creighton, Dec. 15
Arizona vs. No. 6 Florida, Dec. 15
Stanford at No. 25 North Carolina State, Dec. 18
UCLA vs. No. 12 Missouri, Dec. 28
The Pac-12 is riding a seven-game losing streak against ranked teams. If that doesn’t reverse itself in a major way, then we could be looking at another year when winning the regular-season Pac-12 title won’t mean much.
THURSDAY MORNING LINKS:
— Washington State nearly gave the Pac-12 it’s biggest win of the season, however, the Cougars came up short in the final seconds and fell 71-69 to No. 10 Gonzaga. It was a crushing defeat for WSU, which received 23 points from Brock Motum and 22 from DaVonte Lacy.
— Sophomore guard Spencer Dinwiddie scored a career-high 29 points to lead Colorado to a 70-61 victory over cross-state rival Colorado State in front of a record crowd of 11,708.
— Jarred DuBois scored 18 points and Utah used a suffocating defense to cruise to a 76-55 win over Boise State.
— Jahii Carson had 20 points and six assists, Eric Jacobsen added 16 points, and Arizona State used a dominating defensive stretch in the second half to beat Hartford 71-63.
— Washington junior C.J. Wilcox is ranked 71st among the top NBA draft prospects, according to Jeff Goodman at CBSSports.com. There’s 11 players on his list, including former UCLA big man Joshua Smith.
— ESPN.com’s Jason King writes about early Player of the Year candidates and he does not include a Pac-12 player among the top 15 candidates.
— Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski criticized college presidents and administrators over conference realignment. He’s particularly miffed at Maryland switching to the Big Ten.
— NCAA President Mark Emmert wants to curtail coach’s salaries.