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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

December 26, 2011 at 9:47 PM

By any measure, not a memorable start in Pac-12 basketball

They say that occasionally, every blind hog will find an acorn. But Pac-12 men’s basketball appears bent on disproving that theory.

There are a lot of ways to quantify just how destitute the league seems to be, a couple of days before the start of conference play. But in compiling team-by-team profiles scheduled to run in the Times Wednesday, I began to realize just how dreary is the picture for the first six weeks of this season by the conference.

It’s the league’s seeming refusal to beat anybody of note. What is it now, winless in 12 tries against ranked opponents? I went through each team’s resume and tried, subjectively, to judge who has the most notable victory in November and December.

It’s not easy making that call. Then, a check of Monday’s RPI computer numbers on RealtimeRPI.com paints even a different picture.

These are the best wins I judged – very subjectively — per Pac-12 school:

Arizona: New Mexico State or Oakland

Arizona State: Tulsa

California: Denver

Colorado: Georgia

Oregon: Nebraska

Oregon State: Texas

Stanford: North Carolina State or Colorado State

UCLA: Richmond

USC: Texas Christian

Utah: Portland

Washington: Cal-Santa Barbara

Washington State: Santa Clara

Pretty daunting list, huh? I know the league has been down before, but I can’t remember a year when it had so collectively flubbed its lines on a national stage.

RealtimeRPI.com has Cal as the Pac-12’s highest-rated club at No. 53. Arizona is second at 65th. Now keep in mind, the numbers are very fluid at this time of year, and penalize teams that haven’t played a tough schedule. Some of those wallflowers may yet be very good, but they’re not getting rewarded by the computer.

By this measure, Cal’s win over Denver is the league’s best, believe it or not, because Denver is the 31st-rated RPI team.

Stanford has some cachet because of wins against Colorado State (46) and North Carolina State (61), yet the Cardinal is dinged so badly for other lower-level opposition it’s only No. 98 itself.

By this math, Washington is No. 107 and Washington State 118th.

Irrespective of the computers, I’d call Oregon State’s win over Texas, on a neutral floor, the league’s No. 1 win. But Texas is quite unproven, even at 9-3, and only No. 73 in the computer ratings.

By any measure, it’s not a real flattering picture of the conference as it begins its own squabbles Thursday night.

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