Pac-12 Conversation: Did the Pac-12 Get Hosed?

Posted by Adam Butler & RJ Abeytia on March 14th, 2018

With the Pac-12 already off to an inauspicious start given UCLA‘s First Four loss to St. Bonaventure, Pac-12 microsite writers Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) and RJ Abeytia (@rj_abeytia) break down the burning questions facing ArizonaArizona State and the rest of the conference.

It’s Been That Kind of Year in the Pac-12 (USA Today Images)

Adam Butler: OK – let me start with the obvious – as Pac-12 bloggers, did the Pac get hosed by the NCAA?

R.J.:  I say we start with USC. Screwed or not screwed?

Adam Butler: Screwed! Whenever you’re “the somethingest to not something,” you’ve been screwed.

R.J.: USC was but most people are framing the argument incorrectly. It’s the whole body of work and the committee once again proved that there is no line of demarcation in their view between conference and non-conference play and, if anything, non-conference > conference. Andy Enfield has historically scheduled gutlessly in the non-conference realm but a #34 RPI is still a #34 RPI.

Adam Butler: Well… and this is where it gets weird with the 36 at-larges. Are they the 36 best teams remaining or the 36 most deserving?

R.J.: It has to be the 36 most deserving. I hate when an undeserving team gets in and then people retroactively declare them worthy of inclusion.

Adam Butler: Further – are you buying the FBI conspiracies? That the toothless NCAA is taking passive-aggressive jabs at schools explicitly under investigation?

R.J.:  This is not the first time USC has been made an example, only to have other schools get lesser penalties for greater infractions.

Adam Butler:  We love precedent!

R.J.: The ultimate upshot of all of this is that the NCAA looks worse than any team, coach, player or agent involved. Did you see the Pac-12 Task Force recommendations?

Adam Butler: I didn’t but also don’t take task forces seriously — although I’d love to be on one?

R.J.: Let me send you the email. It’s worth at least looking at the bullets.

Adam Butler: Deal! Moving on… Arizona was the 15th team in the bracket on February 11, at the point of the early release. They went 7-1 since, winning both the outright and Pac-12 Tournament championships and DROP ONE SPOT?

R.J.: And w/r/t Arizona: #Message!! Another takeaway from USC and Arizona — this conference tournament is meaningless in the eyes of the committee.

Adam Butler: We learned as much with Kentucky, too? If we’re amenable to John Calipari’s charm?

R.J.: Who isn’t amenable to his charms?

Adam Butler: True!

R.J.: He oozes charisma, among other things.

Adam Butler: Tangent: I love Cal.

R.J.: I do enjoy the idea of him being so forthright that for the moment he looks less shady than Coach K when you start looking at Duke’s ascent to Kentucky’s talent tier.

Adam Butler: Absolutely!

R.J.: Let’s digress into ACTUAL basketball for a bit. I wrote in my Prospectus that after the First Round, every outcome is plausible for Arizona.

Adam Butler: Deal!

R.J.: The Flying Caliparis could get them in the Second Round and Virginia is not a good match-up for them, but on the other hand there is AYTON. My God, what a basketball masterpiece he is.

Adam Butler: It’s a funny year in that everyone except Michigan State and Virginia in that region have shown us their floor — meanwhile the Spartans got a #3 seed and no one ever believes in the Cavaliers. Arizona’s shown their floor but never quite had (bad Pac?) to muscle up to their ceiling. I actually think Virginia will have a very hard time with Arizona.

R.J.: Agree on both. Michigan State has Duke Kryptonite in their bracket but I agree on Virginia overall. Has anybody thought less of a two-loss team?

Adam Butler: Using Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter’s 44 PPG & 29 RPG as analagous to what Ayton and Ristic could do. Can Allonzo Trier/Rawle Alkins/Parker Jackson-Cartwright do better than 1-of-8 from three against Virginia? I’m not saying 44/29 is what Arizona’s twin towers could do, but the last time the Cavaliers saw a pair of skilled bigs…

R.J.: For me it’s actually will those guys Guard?? Jackson-Cartwright and Trier took massive steps backward defensively this year, per Defensive Rating.

Adam Butler: All of this is to say that Kentucky is horrifying. I never want to see NBA talent in the NCAA Tournament.

R.J.: Yeah let’s not put the cart before the horse.

Adam Butler: It’s always about the defense with Arizona, though, and you’re spot on for mentioning that. On to Arizona State. Larry Krystkowiak had fire language (I probably read it out of context) about the Sun Devils’ inclusion. Nevertheless, Bobby Hurley‘s dancing and doing so against a team that allows almost no threes or free throws to be taken against them. You know what Arizona State does well? Threes and free throws — IT’S WHAT TEMPE DOES.

R.J.: Arizona State is on fumes at this point. They may not make it out of Dayton, but they are certainly not winning three games in a week. I also wonder about Hurley Fatigue. He seems like a misery to play for but maybe that’s just me.

Adam Butler: He appeared dejected and beat down after losing to Colorado. You were there, ya?

R.J.: There is an argument that if you set aside A-Game Arizona, USC was by far the best suited team for a Tourney run. I was there, and Colorado is trash, by the way.

Adam Butler: Not a fantastic team – ask Tyler Bey, though. Naturally, that’ll be the note to wrap on.

Adam Butler (47 Posts)

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