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Pac-12 Confidential

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

March 5, 2012 at 12:51 PM

If the league is improved, how would we know?

You know the word coming in recent weeks from Pac-12 basketball coaches. The league has improved from its dark days of November and December, and anybody can see it (except the computer that has so much to do with NCAA-tournament selections).

I’ve been inclined to go along with that thinking. In particular, Oregon is a vastly improved team, and if you were strictly to rely on the eyeball test and nothing else, I’d judge the Ducks to be NCAA-worthy.

Just one thing, though. The final weekend of Pac-12 play would dispute the idea that suddenly, the league is worthy of three or four bids.

Arizona, kind of an on-and-off team much of the season, had a killer loss Sunday to Arizona State, a 200-and-above computer defeat that might mean the Wildcats have to win the league tournament to gain an NCAA bid. They allowed 87 points to an offensively limited ASU squad.

Cal, with a chance to jump into a tie for the regular-season title with Washington, fell at Stanford Sunday. I did some bubble-crunching Sunday, and the Bears’ resume is definitely subject to question. By my reckoning, they don’t have a victory over a certain NCAA-tournament team.

The Huskies, of course, fell to UCLA Saturday, with a chance to remove any doubt about their NCAA worthiness. Later that day, Colorado fell flat and dropped a 14-point decision at flighty Oregon State.

Of the top teams, only Oregon had a solid weekend, and the Ducks were helped by a game against lowly Utah.

So the league-is-improved theory only flies so far — until the contradictory results come in.

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