Making Sense of the Wild Pac-12 Standings

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@Amurawa) on January 11th, 2016

We’re now through two weeks of Pac-12 play and Washington sits alone atop the conference with a 3-0 record. USC, Oregon State and Oregon are the next three teams, with only one loss. Teams among the conference favorites – for example, Arizona and Utah – sit with sub-.500 records. And Arizona State, a team expected to be in the mix somewhere in the middle of the conference race, is sitting alone in last place with an 0-3 record. Sure, given that teams have only played a fraction of the conference schedule, most of this is meaningless. But here are some more relevant facts. At halfway through the college basketball regular season, 11 of the 12 conference teams are ranked among the KenPom top 100 — only Washington State sits out at #122. If RPI is more your thing (for some reason), those 11 teams rank among the top 75 of that metric. If you want to throw out Stanford and Washington, the top nine teams in the conference rank among the top 66 in KenPom and the top 48 in RPI. The conference is listed as the #2 strongest collection of teams in the land by RPI, while KenPom puts the league third. Oregon is rated highest in RPI (#11), while Arizona tops KenPom at #16.

Two Weeks Into Conference Play, One Thing Is Clear: It's Going To Be A Wild One (Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today)

Two Weeks Into Conference Play, One Thing Is Clear: It’s Going To Be A Wild One (Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today)

Enough numbers for now; the important question is what do they all mean? To begin with, this is a conference that runs deep with good teams. In a season seeming to lack great teams on a national level, the Pac-12 will again be expected to extend its streak of seasons without a Final Four entrant to eight. However, because of that lack of dominant team on the national landscape, if this NCAA Tournament tends towards wild upsets (as sometimes happens), the Pac-12 has some teams in that next tier of strength that could either be the upsetter or take advantage of brackets thinned out by upsets.

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Thoughts From a Wacky Opening Night in College Basketball

Posted by Andrew Gripshover on November 14th, 2015

There were a lot of games and a lot of things that happened last night!  Some immediate takeaways on several of them…

Wisconsin. Yikes. You just don’t expect THAT from a Bo Ryan team, right? We all knew the Badgers were replacing a lot this season but it’s always been next man up in Madison. Perhaps it’s a little different though when you’re replacing the NPOY Frank Kaminsky, his sidekick Sam Dekker and many of the other key components of arguably one of the greatest offenses in college basketball history. Still, there shouldn’t be a drop from that to losing at arguably the nation’s greatest fortress to WESTERN ILLINOIS. Picked last in the Summit (as I’m sure you’ve heard by now), the Leathernecks weren’t exactly North Florida winning at Illinois or even Belmont winning at Marquette (both of which also happened last night). This was THE most shocking result of the night.

Shocker of Shockers on a Wild Opening Night

Shocker of Shockers on a Wild Opening Night

Monmouth over UCLA put in a late bid, though.  Playing 2,796 miles away from campus at Pauley Pavilion and with their body clocks at well after midnight Eastern time, the Hawks more or less debunked every time-zone theory by winning 84-81 in overtime. Maybe it’s fairer to say that the Bruins really lost this one, however, after blowing a 13-point lead with 12 minutes to play, and then up five with two minutes remaining in the extra session. Aaron Holiday had an end-of-game sequence to forget — first missing a jumper, followed by one-of-two free throws after an offensive rebound, and then badly bricking a game-tying three-pointer as time ran out. Perhaps tearing up San Diego State in a secret scrimmage isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

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Pac-12 Weekly Honors: Week 12

Posted by Andrew Murawa on February 9th, 2015

Each week the Pac-12 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, which typically will include a Team, Player and Newcomer of the Week, along with our weekly Power Rankings.

Team of the Week: Arizona State

Arizona State's Performance On Saturday Sparked Celebration In Tempe

Arizona State’s Performance On Saturday Sparked Celebration In Tempe

In order to win our Team of the Week award in a week when a team plays just one game, that game had better be pretty special. Knocking off an intrastate rival is a good start. That the rival is a top five team definitely has me intrigued. Scoring 1.14 points per possession against the seventh-best defense in the country? Go on. Going out and getting that win in front of a raucous homecourt crowd on national television in a game where everybody from the freshman point guard to the team’s three seniors all turn in highly impactful performances. Okay, sold. The Sun Devils have had some rotten luck at times this season (six of their 11 losses are by two possessions or fewer), but for the most part, Herb Sendek’s team has played everybody tough while it has folded in several new players into their rotation. On Saturday afternoon in Tempe, everything came together with freshman point guard Tra Holder, JuCo transfer Savon Goodman, junior big man Eric Jacobsen and senior Bo Barnes all particularly deserving of recognition.

(Also receiving votes: California)

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Where 2014-15 Happens: Reason #7 We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2014

Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2014-15 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight rather than 30 days from now. Over the next month you’ll get one reason per day until we reach the new season on November 14. We’ve captured what we believe were the 30 most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. For all of this year’s released posts, click here

#7 – Where The Agony and the Ecstasy Happens.

We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-092009-10, 2010-112011-122012-13 and 2013-14 preseasons.

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RTC Bracketology: February 24 Edition

Posted by Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) on February 24th, 2014

Daniel Evans (@bracketexpert) is Rush the Court’s resident bracketologist. He will update his brackets at least twice a week through the rest of the regular season here at RTC, but his updated brackets can be viewed daily at Bracketology Expert. As we approach March Madness, he’ll also provide occasional blind resumes. Evans has been ranked by the Bracket Matrix as the nation’s 11th-best bracketologist out of hundreds of entries. 

This weekend was supposed to clear up the NCAA Tournament picture, but it didn’t really help much at all. However, a couple of things are obvious right now. Florida had moved to my No. 1 overall seed with Syracuse’s loss to Boston College last week and another Gators’ win over the weekend did nothing to change that. Syracuse‘s second straight loss moved the Orange down to the No. 3 overall seed, and Duke, despite a Thursday loss to North Carolina, remains a solid No. 2 seed.

The movement in this week’s bracket involves Wisconsin, which is a common theme this year. It seems like the Badgers have been on every protected seed line over the course of the last month. The Badgers are now back at a No. 2 seed, and if they can win the Big Ten Tournament, they might still have an outside shot at a No. 1 seed.

Moving down the bracket, the bubble is a headache waiting to happen. Actually, it’s a headache happening right now, as I type this. I haven’t changed the teams at the bottom of my bracket very much lately, because I still feel firm in the best at-large resumes and nothing lately has really changed anything.

If you want an example of how crazy it is around the bubble cut line, look at Arizona State.  A week after beating Arizona, the Sun Devils were blown out by Utah on Sunday night. Yet, I still have the Sun Devils as a No. 8 seed. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh, which may have the worst profile of any consensus top 30 team in history, continues to slide after a bad loss to Florida State. Seeding the Panthers is a  huge guessing game right now. Will the committee seed them based on their profile, which clearly makes Jamie Dixon’s team one of the last teams in or out of the field, or based on the way most observers view the team (not including this one): As a Top 25 team that has had a few bad breaks, like the last second Syracuse buzzer-beater? I’m guessing it will be somewhere in the middle right now.

The complete bracket is after the jump:

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Rushed Reaction: Creighton 88, Arizona State 60

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) on November 29th, 2013


Andrew Murawa is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after tonight’s Wooden Legacy quarterfinal between Creighton and Arizona State.

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Devin Brooks is a Wildcard. Tonight, the junior college transfer was transcendent, scoring 23 spectacular points in just 19 minutes of action. The book on him is “great athlete, great off the bounce, but prone to getting a little out of control, average defensively and with an inconsistent jumper.” All those positives showed through tonight as he was able to beat his man off the dribble with regularity and score at the rim. But all those negatives? Non-existent. He knocked down all four of his three-point attempts (he was 0-for-2 from deep previously), did a quality job defensively, and played like a veteran all night. While Creighton certainly isn’t a team that needed an extra boost offensively, Brooks does give them an athletic and confident scorer unlike anyone else on the roster.

    Devin Brooks Was A Revelation On Thanksgiving Night, Dropping 23 Spectacular Points (WBR, Mike Spomer)

    Devin Brooks Was A Revelation On Thanksgiving Night, Dropping 23 Spectacular Points (WBR, Mike Spomer)

  2. Creighton: Defensive Powerhouse. Arizona State is a very good offensive team, and Creighton, somehow, held the Sun Devils to fewer than 0.9 points per possession. Jahii Carson got 15 points, but it took 12 shots for him to do that and he turned the ball over five times in the process. The game plan for Creighton was simple: Hound Carson with a quick guard like Brooks or Austin Chatman relentlessly, and keep several other sets of eyes on him at all times. And once Carson gave it up, make him work real hard in order to get the ball back and force other guys to beat them. It worked flawlessly, as the rest of the ASU squad shot a combined 17-of-46 (36.9%) from the field. The key for the Bluejays going forward will be to keep the type of defensive intensity they showed tonight on a nightly basis, not something they have proven capable of doing in the past.
  3. Lost Weekend for Arizona State. With the loss to Creighton, the remainder of this weekend for Herb Sendek’s team is about improving as a team; there are no other chances for good wins remaining for the Sun Devils in Orange County. They’ll play Charleston tomorrow and then likely Miami (FL) on Sunday. And god forbid they have a hangover after this game and drop one of those. Sendek will get a chance to see how his team bounces back from its first loss of the season and first taste of adversity this year, but he’ll also want to see his team work on a few weaknesses that were exposed tonight.

Star of the GameDevin Brooks, Creighton. A 23-point night on 9-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-4 from deep, all in just 19 minutes. Yeah, that’ll work. But the bigger story was his confidence in doing so. A New York City guard with the type of game that phrase evokes, Brooks showed no hesitation under the bright lights. He broke down his defenders off the bounce early and finished well at the rim. And then, once he had his mojo going, he drilled three after three despite a scouting report that said to lay back on him and let him take jumpers. Even his own head coach, Greg McDermott, admitted that he cringed the first time Brooks jacked up a three. While the kind of production he laid down tonight isn’t maintainable, if he can be a consistent force on both end of the court, this Bluejays team just got a whole lot scarier.

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The RTC Podblast: Pac-12 Preseason Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 1st, 2013


We’re just a little over a week from the start of games across this fair nation, and that means it’s time to preview each of the major seven basketball conferences on the RTC Podcast. This week we’ll unveil previews for the Big East (Tuesday), Big Ten (Wednesday), SEC (Thursday) and Pac-12 (Friday), with the AAC, ACC and Big 12 to come next week. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) is our talented and engaging host, leading the group through a series of topics and questions related to the upcoming season. For this podblast, we invited RTC Pac-12 microsite correspondent Andrew Murawa (@amurawa) to the program, as he sold us on the notion that the Pac is back.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record. And don’t forget to check out our 2013-14 Preseason Podcast, the National Edition, and feel free to contact us through Twitter or email — we’re listening.

The rundown is below if you’d like to skip around.

  • 0:00-8:43 – Arizona Pac-12 Preseason Favorites Yet Again
  • 8:43-15:08 – The Challengers (Oregon, Colorado, UCLA)
  • 15:08-20:00 – Teams That Can Surprise (Stanford, Cal, USC)
  • 20:00-24:37 – Randy’s New Favorite Team – Pac-12 Style (Arizona State)
  • 24:37-27:41 – All Pac-12 Projections
  • 27:41-30:06 – Under the Radar Pac-12 Stars
  • 30:06-33:06 – Pac-12 Bold Predictions
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Notes From a Pac-12 Media Day, UCLA is Still Slow Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2013

Adam Butler of (@pachoopsab) joins us as a guest columnist for the second straight year. He took in the Pac-12 Media Day on Thursday.

Pac-12 Coaches Got Their Media Day On Yesterday (credit: P12)

Pac-12 Coaches Got Their Media Day On Yesterday (credit: P12)

Washington State

Despite being picked to finish last, Ken Bone did not seem too concerned. He was, however, concerned about his team’s inability to close games last year and he wore a portion of that blame; letting us all know that his team’s lack of composure down the stretch lay partially on his shoulders. Though some of it could be tossed up to luck, for which we consult KenPom. The Cougars were the 345 luckiest team in the country last year. For context, that means there were only two other teams that were less lucky. And to contextualize quantified luck, it’s to say that their actual success (or lack thereof) was below their predicted success and therefore: unlucky. They lost the close ones and the thought is that this trend would normalize and the Cougars wouldn’t, say, finish last. With that and mind, and the return of DaVonte Lacy and Royce Woolridge, Bone thinks he might have something a little better than the cellar cooking.

Oregon State

Craig Robinson jumped right in to things by telling us about how much more frontcourt depth he’s going to have. He did mention the other guy on stage with him, Roberto Nelson (18/3/2), then dove right into the return of Angust Brandt and Daniel Gomis, a player who’s been on campus for three years with nary a game played. CRob was re-introducing us to more than 13 additional feet of frontcourt to be added to Eric Moreland (more later), Devon Collier, and Olaf Schaftenaar. Big Beavers. So on to Moreland. According to Robinson, he’s irreplaceable; which makes it really difficult when he’s suspended for the season’s first 14 games. So how do you replace the irreplaceable? Well you put a positive twist on it, elevate the roles of a few peripheral guys and say, “What I think is going to happen is we’re going to have more tools in our toolkit to use once Eric does come back.” I liked that and I also liked that, when asked about impact newcomers to the Pac-12, Robinson didn’t bother (much) on Aaron Gordon or Jabari Bird. He told us about his new guys: Cheikh N’diaye, Malcolm Duvivier, and Hallice Cooke. Good for you, coach.


His first year in Utah was “survival.” He’d brought in something like 12-if-not-more newcomers and he just needed to survive. That year the Utes were in the conversation for worst High Major team of all time. Like I said, Larry Krystkowiak called it survival. And then there was last year and now we find ourselves here. Drake might call it starting from the bottom but I won’t soon put the Utes at the top (which is what I assume Drake implies through his lyrics and that he’s not a middling Pac-12 team). “I think that playing hard is a talent,” Larry K said. And it was that level of talent he’s had to rely on. But now he’s starting to see an influx. His culture hasn’t changed but there may be “a few more stars behind their name.” Insinuating that K thinks he just might have a slightly more talented squad and some higher expectations for where his team could go. And if nothing else, he claims to have a deep squad. Something he’ll use to exploit their distinct altitude advantage. That high up he wants to run people out of the gym with their depth and altitude aptitude. And if nothing else, he can rely on all-freshman performer Jordan Loveridge for survival. A young man K has asked to be a leader, “[Coach Krystkowiak] challenged me to lead more verbally.” We know the Utes are high up, but are they up for the challenge?

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Pac-12 M5: 03.14.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 14th, 2013


  1. When the quarterfinals get underway later today in the Pac-12 Tournament, Mike Montgomery and Cal will be ready. Guard Justin Cobbs knows any team is capable of winning the event and hopes that Cal will be the team to do just that. The Bears will face Utah and if Cal can play the way they did down the stretch of the regular season, they could walk away as the tournament champions. Part of the reason Cal finished the season by winning nine of its final 11 games was its strong defense, holding opponents to 39 percent shooting from the field (best in the conference).
  2. Arizona’s late season struggles could affect the Wildcats come Selection Sunday. Committee chair Mike Bobinski noted how a team finishes is certainly important and that might not bode well for Sean Miller’s team if it doesn’t have a strong conference tournament. Without question, the Wildcats are a lock for the field of 68, but better play in Vegas could certainly earn them a higher seed. Additionally, winning multiple games certainly would make Arizona a little more confident before the NCAA Tournament as the Wildcats don’t have a truly notable win since beating San Diego State in December 2012.
  3. The status of Ben Howland’s job as head coach of the Bruins has been a recurring topic this year, but Howland is choosing to reflect on his latest Pac-12 title rather than an unpredictable future. This year, Howland has been more relaxed than usual. After a disappointing loss to Cal Poly and near loss to UC Irvine early in the season, Howland clearly revamped his offensive philosophy with this team. The Bruins get out and run more than ever and have a much more open offense than they have in years past. Nevertheless, a successful turnaround and a Pac-12 regular title isn’t enough to keep Howland off the hot seat. Only success in the NCAA Tournament will decide if the veteran coach stays in Westwood.
  4. A coach that might be on a hotter seat than Howland right now is Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins. With a loss to Arizona State yesterday, the Cardinal will miss the NCAA Tournament again and even another NIT championship might not be enough to keep the former Duke assistant in Palo Alto. Under Dawkins, Stanford has posted an above average 93-73 overall record, but hasn’t finished better than sixth in any year in the Pac-12. The Cardinal were picked by many this year to finally play up to their potential and finish near the top of the league standings, but that didn’t happen. It will be interesting to see how Stanford brass chooses to handle the head coaching position.
  5. Arizona State co-Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Jahii Carson was sensational yesterday against Stanford, scoring 34 points in their 89-88 overtime win, but Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson says the team needs to continue to upgrade its talent. Carson is likely to leave for the NBA before his four years are up as a Sun Devil and if ASU doesn’t continue to improve as a program, they might be set back once again. Patterson noted with rival Arizona ahead of the curve in recruiting and talent, thinking about remaining more than just competitive is necessary.
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Pac-12 M5: 03.13.13 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on March 13th, 2013


  1. Arizona head coach Sean Miller is excited about the Pac-12 Tournament changing venues from Los Angeles’ Staples Center to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this year. After 11 years in downtown LA drawing less than stellar crowds, the Pac-12 has moved the location of its postseason tournament. Miller pointed out that Las Vegas isn’t necessarily a prime destination for sporting events, but with the first basketball games ever to be played at the MGM Grand, it should be quite a compelling four days starting tonight.
  2. Oregon had one of its better practices in a while Tuesday before taking off for Vegas and senior leader E.J. Singler noted that the unexpected weekend losses to Colorado and Utah are behind the Ducks. Dana Altman and his team have had time to take in the losses, and they know that they have a big weekend ahead of them. Oregon won’t play until Thursday as they are the #3 seed and have a first-round bye. They will take on the winner of the Washington-Washington State game, but Altman did not reveal if Dominic Artis, who has been slowly getting back into games after a foot injury, would start in that contest.
  3. Colorado also didn’t end its season on the brightest note by getting upset at home against Oregon State, but the Buffaloes will be able to make up for that right away as they draw the Beavers again later today in their first game in the Pac-12 Tournament. Colorado’s first team all-Pac-12 star, Spencer Dinwiddie, said that the Buffs’ loss on Senior Day wasn’t an emotional letdown, but rather just a lack of execution. In that loss, however, they were without Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Andre Roberson. The nation’s leading rebounder will be critical for Colorado to have available in Las Vegas and Tad Boyle expects him to be back and starting today.
  4. Lorenzo Romar says Washington‘s struggles this year fall on him. Romar expected his team to play better than it has this season, but the Huskies just never managed to do so. Injuries early in the year hurt Washington, and they never seemed to recover. Although Romar is taking the blame, the season isn’t over. His team squares off with its intrastate rival Washington State today in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. With a win, the Huskies would then play Oregon, who they have already lost closely to twice this year. Stealing an automatic bid isn’t easy, but with the depth and shooting ability that Washington possesses, it isn’t out of the question. Plus, Romar’s teams have had a great recent history in this event.
  5. After Arizona State‘s late-season struggles, the Sun Devils understand what they have to do to make the NCAA Tournament: Win four games in four days. It’s not out of the question for the Sun Devils, as Colorado did it last year, but ASU isn’t using that team as motivation. Jahii Carson says his team is instead looking at the 2011 Connecticut team that won five games and five days in the Big East Tournament as inspiration. To start off a possible miraculous run, the Sun Devils will need to beat Stanford tonight. They’ll be looking to get revenge as they lost at home to Stanford earlier in the year and if want to have different results, Herb Sendek’s team  will need to better contain Dwight Powell, who had 22 points and 1o rebounds the last time these two teams played.
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