What happens in November and December will have consequences in March.
A nonconference win against a quality team helps every team in the league. It improves the league’s RPI and strength of schedule, which in theory means better seeding in the NCAA tournament and perhaps 1-2 teams who are on the bubble will make the Big Dance.
So what to make of the Pac-12’s 1-5 record against ranked teams? Obviously, it’s not good. But it’s not fatal. Not yet.
The Pac-12 is 37-14 (.725) in nonconference games. The league’s RPI ranks fourth behind the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC.
Basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy ranks the Pac-12 sixth behind the Big 12, Big Ten, ACC, Big East and SEC. (And speaking of Pomeroy, he projects Washington will finish with an 18-10 record and tied for seventh in the Pac-12 at 9-9).
There’s still time for the Pac-12 to reverse course and gain a little respect nationwide. Mostly, the conference needs its ranked teams to remain undefeated.
No. 3 Arizona plays three ranked teams (No. 15 San Diego State, No. 10 Gonzaga and No. 19 Michigan) in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, No. 22 UCLA, which moved into the top 25 rankings this week, could give the Pac-12 a huge lift if it upsets No. 1 Kentucky on Dec. 20. The Bruins also play No. 10 Gonzaga.
Utah has games against No. 9 Wichita State and No. 11 Kansas.
And Washington hosts No. 15 San Diego State on Dec. 7.
PAC-12 vs. RANKED TEAMS
Date Team Opponent Outcome
Nov. 25 Oregon No. 14 VCU L, 77-63
Nov. 24 Oregon No. 19 Michigan L, 70-63
Nov. 22 Stanford No. 4 Duke L, 70-59
Nov. 21 California No. 10 Texas L, 71-55
Nov. 20 California No. 25 Syracuse W, 73-59
Nov. 18 No. 25 Utah No. 16 San Diego State L, 53-49
WEDNESDAY MORNING LINKS:
— Gutty performance from No. 3 Arizona, which held off Kansas State for a 72-68 victory in the Maui Invitational semifinals. Kaleb Tarczewski scored 18 points and Gabe York added 15 for the Wildcats, which had a nine-point second-half lead shaved to one in the final minute.
— Colorado coach Tad Boyle has taken the ball away from erratic senior guard Askia Booker and given it to freshman Dominque Collier, who is now running the offense. The switch proved to be the catalyst for a bounce-back 68-53 win against Air Force after dropping an embarrassing 56-33 defeat at Wyoming in the previous outing. Xavier Johnson had 15 points and nine rebounds while Josh Scott added 13 points for the Buffs (3-1).
— After falling to No. 4 Duke last week, Stanford got back on the winning track with an easy 84-47 victory over Delaware. Chasson Randle scored 15 points and Stefan Nastic, Anthonly Brown and Rosco Allen chipped in with 12 apiece for the Cardinal (4-1).
— Oregon cruised to a comfortable 3-0 record against creampuffs, but the Ducks are 0-2 this week against ranked teams. Their latest setback was a 77-63 defeat to No. 14 VCU in the Legends Classic consolation game at the Barclays Center. Dillon Brooks scored 15 points for Oregon (3-2). Joseph Young, who had averaged 24.5 points, missed 11 of 13 shots and had only nine points.
— Arizona State dropped its second straight game, a 76-71 loss to Alabama. Gerry Blakes led the Sun Devils (3-2) with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Eric Jacobsen added 13 points and six rebounds.
— Not sure if Tyrone Wallace is a point guard, but the 6-5 junior is running the offense for California.
TODAY’S PAC-12 SCHEDULE:
No. 22 UCLA (4-0) vs. Oklahoma (2-1), 11:30 a.m. PT …………….. ESPN2
UT Pan American (3-0) at Utah (2-1), 5 p.m. …………………………. Pac-12 Networks
Oregon State (3-1) vs. Auburn (2-2), 6 p.m. ………………………….. ESPN3
No. 3 Arizona (5-0) vs. No. 15 San Diego State (5-0), 7 p.m. ……… ESPN
Cal Poly (2-1) at California (3-1), 7 p.m. ………………………………. Pac-12 Networks