Last week, the Pac-12 came down with a horrific case of the SECs. Every middle-of-the-pack tournament threat, save one, did absolutely nothing to help their case come Selection Sunday.
What we're seeing in the Pac-12 is a wealth of fairly okay-to-decent teams attempting to rely on signature wins earlier in the year to make it to the Dance...which means that this final week of the season could be a flustercluck of epic proportions.
Sounds like fun to me.
Pac-12 Bubble Watch...
Arizona (27-2 overall, 14-2 Pac-12 (1st), RPI: 1 BPI: 1)
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you your rightful #1 overall seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
But, but Florida. But Wichita State...
Arizona is 9-1 against the RPI top 50, with road victories against--(brace yourself)--Michigan, San Diego State, UCLA, Colorado, and Stanford. Oh yeah, add a neutral site victory over Duke in the way-back-when.
Florida is 6-2 against the RPI top 50, with just two overall victories over the RPI top 30. Every one of Arizona's aforementioned road victories, except for Stanford, came against teams in the RPI top 30.
31-0 Wichita State is undoubtedly deserves a top seed. However, they've played just three games against the RPI top 50 (3-0), with their signature road victory over Saint Louis marred a bit by the Billikens' recent woes.
Losing Brandon Ashley may have shaken the 'Cats, but this team's resume speaks for itself.
Current position: #1 overall seed and a tournament lock
UCLA (21-7 overall, 11-5 Pac-12 (2nd), RPI: 22 BPI: 15)
Kudos to coach Steve Alford for suspending the Bruins' top two scorers (Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson) in a key conference tilt against Oregon—at least for the Ducks—with a bit of the ol' "violation of team rules" mystery loaf.
In fact, I am more sold on UCLA than ever after seeing what their depth chart can do with their backs against the wall, in what was a bizarrely entertaining 87-83 double-overtime loss.
The Bruins returned fire after falling down twelve in the first half, giving the suddenly surging Ducks a strong taste of UCLA's future with freshmen Bryce Alford (31 points, 6 assists) and Zach LaVine (18 points, 8 rebounds) both putting up monster efforts.
The Bruins again found themselves in a double-digit hole against the Beavers at Pauley on Sunday, but they rode the Adams/Anderson wave in a 45-point 2nd half to squeak out the 74-69 dub.
In short, UCLA will be dancing. If they catch fire in these last two games and in the conference tourney, they can sneak into a top-4 seed.
Current position: 6th seed and a tournament lock
Arizona State (21-8 overall, 10-6 Pac-12, RPI: 29 BPI: 33)
After raising some eyebrows by being blown out by a barely-Dance-relevant Utes squad, the Sun Devils righted the ship and locked themselves into a tourney berth, with a stifling home sweep of the Bay Area squads.
Arizona State blanketed the Golden Bears (60 points, 41.5 FG%) and Cardinal (63 points, 39.6 FG%), holding each team double-digits below their season scoring averages.
Jahii Carson's declaration that he will enter the 2014 NBA Draft isn't surprising.
A Sun Devils defense which is returning to non-conference form at the right time is...kind of. Beware this Sun Devils team if they continue to put it all together. They can do some serious damage as a mid-seed in this form.
Current position: 8th seed and a tournament lock
In for now...
Stanford (18-10, 9-7 Pac-12 (5th), RPI: 43 BPI: 36)
The 11th best strength of schedule in the land, along with a 53-51 December 19th victory at then #10 Connecticut which is starting to look just as it good as it did back then. Add in a road victory against a Ducks team climbing up the RPI charts, and you have the closest thing to a lock that you can get with 18 wins on March 3rd.
They looked over-matched at points of their Arizona 0-2 road trip this week, but even an epic stink bomb of blowouts at home against Colorado and Utah this week, coupled with a disastrous first-round exit in the Pac-12 tourney, probably won't be enough to keep this Stanford team out of the First Four in this weak-bubble year.
With Chasson Randle, Stanford can stay in any game. Especially if Josh Huestis (22 points, 12 boards against 'Zona) and a dead-eyed Anthony Brown (47.9% from 3 this year) keep providing secondary scoring.
Current Position: 10th seed, one decent game away from lock status
Colorado: (20-9 overall, 9-7 Pac-12, RPI:29 BPI:50)
However, the Buffaloes stayed the course, winning six of ten after Dinwiddie went down, while adding an RPI-boosting 61-52 home victory against Arizona State on February 19th.
Now, they have promptly followed that by being blown out by 27 against 'Zona at home, along with enhancing Utah's sterling NIT resume' on Saturday with a 75-64 punch to the dingleberries in Salt Lake City.
Colorado is by no means perfectly safe.
However, you would hope that with or without Dinwiddie, having a victory over Kansas on your non-conference resume', along with posting 20 victories despite the 13th toughest schedule in the nation, would be enough.
It's not. Or it doesn't seem so, from all of the chatter.
I can't speak for the committee, who may discount a team who (with potential losses against the Bay Area schools this week) could go 6-8 without their best player going into what would be a live-and-die conference tourney.
All I know is they are in for now. And, you would be hard-pressed to convince me otherwise.
Current Position: 10th seed
California (18-11 overall, 9-7 Pac-12, RPI: 51 BPI: 67) and
Oregon (20-8 overall, 8-8 Pac-12, RPI: 33 BPI: 19)
As a Cal homer attending the University of Oregon, I am left to watch this maddeningly streaky team futz through their talent level and firmly embed themselves on the bubble with one week left in the regular season.
Like George Costanza, I can't handle watching these bubble boy(s) without re-eating my breakfast a couple of times.
At this point, it's looks like a dogfight between Cal and Oregon for the Pac-12's sixth bid, with a possibility that neither make it with brutal finishes.
Oregon's current five-game winning streak includes a dupe of an RPI-boost, struggling to beat a Bruins team at Pauley that was missing its top two scorers. However, Oregon's 12-0 record in non-conference play carries with it an RPI of 5. With a 6-2 record against RPI teams 51-100, the Ducks are a couple of wins away from locking things down. As of now...they are a First Four team.
If the committee decides to go the other way, it will probably have something to with Oregon's best road victory being a 2-point squeaker at Utah (RPI: 82).
Current position: California -- 11th seed with work to do, Oregon -- First Four 12th seed and work to do.
NIT-bound (and on the NIT bubble)...
Utah (19-9 overall, 8-8 Pac-12, RPI: 80 BPI: 34)
Washington (16-13 overall, 8-8 Pac-12, RPI: 79 BPI: 100)
Oregon State (15-13 overall, 7-9 Pac-12, RPI: 102 BPI: 88)
Sorry Utes fans.
Even convincing wins at Cal and Stanford this week would leave this Utes team on the underside of the bubble.
The Utes are currently 1-7 on the road, with their only victory coming against Pac-12 bottom-feeder USC (RPI: 178). Great effort against the Arizona schools, and an impressive home victory against the Sun Devils notwithstanding.
Current position: Utah -- NIT 2nd seed, Washington -- NIT 4th seed, Oregon State -- NIT 7th seed
Thanks for playing...
Washington State (9-19 overall, 2-14 Pac-12, RPI: 195 BPI: 182
USC (10-19 overall, 1-15 Pac-12, RPI: 173 BPI: 159)