We decided not to do weekly coverage of Pacific-12 Conference men’s basketball like we have done in the past, so it’s time to take a look at how the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions is doing this season.
KenPom has the Pac-12 rated as the fourth-best league right now, while Sagarin has it ranked sixth. That is not too shabby, although the conference would prefer to be given the benefit of the doubt, especially after how last season ended up with the conference tourney champion Oregon Ducks just a few bounces away from the Elite Eight.
But maths are maths. Right now, KenPom also has seven Pac-12 teams in its top 62, which is a strong showing. These teams include current conference leader Colorado (19-5 overall, 8-3 in league play) and projected Top-16 seed Arizona (16-7, 6-4).
Strangely, defending conference champion Washington (12-12, 2-9) is in last place among Pac-12 teams yet still ranks 53rd in the KenPom ratings. Numbers don’t lie, right?
Here’s a look at some of the other teams in the league right now:
- Oregon (18-6, 7-4) is once again quite strong, and it took Gonzaga to overtime in a one-point loss earlier this season. The Ducks have made the Sweet 16 four times in the last seven years and could do it again.
- Stanford (16-7, 5-5) has played surprisingly well, despite losing five of its last six games now. The Cardinal used to be a tourney mainstay for the conference, but it hasn’t made the NCAAs since a Sweet 16 appearance in 2014.
- USC (17-7, 6-5) has put itself in position for a potential NCAA invite, although the Trojans have lost three in a row now through tough conference play. A nice win over LSU means USC could see March Madness for the first time in three years.
- Arizona State (15-8, 6-4) is on the cusp of making its season another good one, with a Territorial Cup win over the Wildcats. The Sun Devils are gunning for a third-straight NCAA bid this season.
While California (10-13, 4-6) and Washington State (14-10, 5-6) remain the lowest-quality teams in the league sabermetrically, both squads are doing much better than last season—bringing up the overall quality of the conference.
We will check back in a few weeks to see how things are shaping up for the Conference of Champions, although right now, it looks pretty solid for the group out West with at least four teams likely headed to March Madness.