Pac-12 Final Power RankingsPosted by Connor Pelton on March 6th, 2012
1. California (23-8, 13-5) Projected NCAA Seed: #10
Here it is, the only team locked into the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens this week in Los Angeles. With only eight losses and wins against Oregon and Washington on the road and Colorado at home, even a loss to or Stanford or Arizona State on Thursday wouldn’t knock them out of the Tournament. However, I could see them moving up to a nine seed (which is exactly like an eight) if they win two games at Staples and have teams in front of them (Long Beach State, Alabama, and Kansas State, to name a few) lose early on in their respective conference tournaments. While we could see any team from Cal to UCLA win the Pac-12 Tournament, the Golden Bears are the definite favorite coming in. They’ve got a near-elite to elite player in Allen Crabbe, and with a supporting cast made up of Jorge Gutierrez, Justin Cobbs, and a sleeper player that I think will come alive this week, Emerson Murray, the Golden Bears have unrivaled depth in this conference.
2. Oregon (22-8, 13-5), NIT
The Ducks remain on the outside looking in heading into the Tournament, but I’m of the belief that if they win two games and play in the Pac-12 Championship, regardless of what happens there, the Ducks will be included in the field of 68. Oregon has been on the bubble for the better part of conference play, but the real noise in Eugene began when it went down to the desert and took both games from the Arizona schools. Before that trip, Oregon was embarrassed by a 77-60 loss to California at home. Since then it has gone 11-3, with the biggest margin of defeat coming in a 76-71 loss at home against rival Oregon State. Besides Cal, the Ducks have the best chance to make a run in the Pac-12 Tournament; it’s almost like their team was built for it. To win any college basketball tournament, whether it is the Maui Invitational or NIT, you need to be able to shoot lights out, and two, have depth off the bench. As of late, the Ducks have been making everything they put up, and they put up a lot of shots. Watch for Devoe Joseph, E.J. Singler, and Garrett Sim to go off on any given night, considering all three are capable of creating and making their own shot. Look for junior forward Carlos Emory to have a big tournament coming off the bench.
3. Washington (21-9, 14-4) Projected NCAA Seed: #11
The Huskies should be safe for the NCAA Tournament, but things would have been a lot easier for the Dawgs if they just would have taken care of business on Saturday against UCLA. A loss in the quarterfinals shouldn’t affect their spot in the Dance; it would just mean they play a tougher four seed or one of the lower five seeds. However, things could get interesting if Washington State or Oregon State doesn’t only win, but wins by double digits. If that were to happen, Husky fans would hear about the infamous “eye test” and be biting their nails for the next three days. So the only situation that I see Washington being left out goes like this; 1) Washington loses by double digits in their quarterfinal game; 2) Oregon makes the Pac-12 Championship game; 3) Arizona makes the Pac-12 title game and South Florida, Miami (Florida), and VCU all have terrible conference tournaments OR a team not named California, Oregon, or Arizona takes the Pac-12 automatic bid. All of those things would have to happen, so as you can see; it’s pretty likely that the Huskies get in. While we have talked about a lot of “doomsday” scenarios for the Huskies, this is a good team, and they are definitely capable of winning the whole thing. However, they will need to see better play from their big men, especially Darnell Gant and Aziz N’Diaye, if they are to make a run at Staples.
4. Arizona (21-10, 12-6), NIT
Arizona’s 21-10 record certainly isn’t terrible by any means, but it is going to need a lot of things to go right if it’s to be included in the NCAA’s field on Sunday. But the reason the Wildcats need to not only make the Pac-12 Championship game but have the aforementioned teams (USF, Miami, and VCU) lose this week is because of their poor RPI. The Cats are ranked #74 in the RPI, which is 28 spots behind the Bulls, 23 spots behind the Hurricanes, and 15 behind the Rams. Of course, the Wildcats could just throw all of these rankings out the window and take the Pac-12’s automatic bid. They are talented enough, and with a first round bye and most likely a date with UCLA, I could easily see the Cats advancing into the semifinals and championship.
5. Stanford (20-10, 10-8), NIT
The Cardinal is on incredibly thin ice here. Projected by most as either a seven or eight seed in the NIT, a bad loss to Arizona State in the first round could prove fatal. Watch for movement in their respective conference tournaments from teams like Loyola (Maryland) and La Salle, who are currently on the bad side of the NIT bubble.
6. Colorado (19-11, 11-7), NIT
With now no chance of an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament after getting swept in Oregon, the Buffaloes will be playing angry and with nothing to lose. That makes an already talented team super-dangerous, and I can easily see them advancing to the semifinals. Once they get there they would likely see one of the Bay Area schools. If it’s California, a team they’ve played well against all season, expect the Buffs to advance. On the other side of the coin is Stanford, a team that causes multiple matchup problems for Colorado, meaning Buff fans should be paying very close attention to that Big Game quarterfinal on Thursday night.
7. UCLA (18-13, 11-7), NIT
Most thought UCLA’s 66-63 loss to St. John’s three weeks ago in front of what had to be a few NIT selection committee members ended their NIT aspirations. Then the Bruins won three of their last four, including a 32-point over a solid Washington State team and a six-point win over regular season champion Washington. Oh, and that one loss was a two-point defeat in the McKale Center. All of this has added up to the Bruins being one of the last two teams in the NIT field, and they will most likely just need to beat rival USC on Wednesday to keep that spot.
8. Oregon State (17-13, 7-11)
Like the Bruins, it looked like the Beavers’ NIT hopes had ended a couple weeks ago. But after a dominating win over Utah and another dominating win against a good Colorado team, the talk has begun once again. However, I still find it highly unlikely that the Beavers get in, as much of it has to do with what UCLA does more than anything. For one, UCLA is a far more attractive name than Oregon State, and although the Bruins haven’t drawn good attendance numbers at home this season (something the NIT likes), the committee will throw that out because they would be playing, and drawing well, on the road. So the only way I can see the Beavers getting past the Bruins in the minds of the selection committee would be to advance further in the Pac-12 Tournament. If the Beavers were to make it to the semifinals and UCLA was ousted before, that 87-84 loss in Corvallis back in January could really come back to haunt the Bruins.
9. Washington State (15-15, 7-11)
The good news is the Cougars have fared well this season against the first two opponents they will face if they win on Wednesday. The bad news is they are playing some God-awful basketball as of late, and there is a close to zero percent chance that they win those two. However, if they do find a way to knock off Oregon State and Washington, that would assure them a winning record, which could mean the CBI would come calling. The CBI is always looking for power conference teams to fill out their field, no matter how bad they are (Oregon played last year with an under .500 record, as did Oregon State in 2010). A key player to watch throughout the tournament will be junior forward Brock Motum, especially on Wednesday against Oregon State. Motum averaged 25 points and seven rebounds in his two previous meetings with the Beavers this season.
10. Arizona State (10-20, 6-12)
There were a few bright spots in there, but overall, this was another nightmare season for the Sun Devils. With virtually no chance of winning the Pac-12 Tournament and knowing the CBI or NIT will not be calling next Sunday, it’s either going to motivate the Devils or deflate them.
11. Utah (6-24, 3-15)
Just when it looked like the Utes were playing some good basketball, they went to the state of Oregon and erased the good memory of their win over Stanford two weeks ago. On Thursday in Corvallis, the final deficit was only 10, but they had trailed by 31 earlier in the game. But while that one was bad, it was nothing like what would happen two days later down the road in Eugene. The Utes only scored two points in the first 13 minutes and change, and they only had 14 points at halftime. The end result would be a 41-point, 94-48 loss, the worst defeat in Utes history.
12. USC (6-25, 1-17)
With the way the Trojan offense has performed as of late (38 points on Saturday against Washington State), there is no way they beat UCLA on Wednesday. I’d like to think it possible; the whole “you can’t beat a team three times”, and rivalry “throw out the books” stuff, but it’s just not going to happen. The troops will be coming next season, as Strahinja Gavrilovic will arrive on campus and Jio Fontan will be back from injury. But for now, it’s just best if they let the nightmare on and move forward.