Pac-12 Basketball Bracketology

If the season ended today, who from the Pac-12 is in and who is out?. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it is a little early to be projecting who will and won’t make the NCAA Tournament, but it is too much fun to pass up the opportunity to analyze ESPN’s recent Bracketology, which currently has six teams going to the Big Dance from the Pac-12. Joe Lunardi has given his early season tournament bids to Arizona (#3 Seed), Colorado (7), California (9), Oregon (10), Stanford (12) and UCLA (12). Is Lunardi right? Is he being too generous to some teams? Has he left some other potential dark horses out? Let us examine:

Arizona (7-0)
National Rankings: #8 (AP and Coaches)
RPI: 14
Top 50 RPI wins: none
Bad losses: none

If the season ended today, #8 Arizona would be in. They have not played anyone in the top 50 RPI yet, but they have not lost a game yet either, and their non-conference schedule is just good enough to put them at #14 in RPI. If Arizona beats Florida this Saturday, their invitation to the Big Dance gets much, much stronger.

Colorado (7-2)
National Rankings: None
RPI: 3
Top 50 RPI wins: Murray State (25), Colorado State (36)
Bad losses: none

Colorado has a solid resume. They have one of the toughest schedules in the country and have beaten two teams in the top 50 RPI. Their only losses have also come to top 50 RPI teams. They belong on the bracket, and may even deserve a higher seed than #7.

California (6-2)
National Rankings: None
RPI: 27
Top 50 RPI wins: Pacific (43)
Bad losses: Wisconsin

As of right now, a #9 seed in the Big One sounds about right, but with two of the best guards in the nation, I think Cal will improve to be a better team than Colorado. The two things holding them back are a devastating one point loss at home to #21 UNLV and crummy 81-56 loss to a subpar Wisconsin team. The Golden Bears can prove they are better this week with a win over #16 Creighton.

Oregon (8-1)
National Rankings: None
RPI: 57
Top 50 RPI wins: UNLV (19)
Bad losses: none

Oregon has been the biggest surprise in the Pac-12 so far and their win over UNLV on the road is the best win in the Pac-12 to date. If the tournament started tomorrow, I would have the Ducks ahead of California. Though their strength of schedule has been weak, they have beaten each of their subpar opponents by a considerable amount.

UCLA (6-3)
National Rankings: None
RPI: 120
Top 50 RPI wins: None
Bad losses: Cal Poly

Lunardi might be giving UCLA the benefit of the doubt with a #12 seed based on the Bruins’ rich basketball history or his hunch that UCLA will pull it together down the road, but this is not a tournament team right now. UCLA’s loss to Cal Poly is embarrassing and the Bruins have barely escaped defeat from other subpar teams as well (UC Irvine, Georgia, Texas). Without enough depth, UCLA’s freshmen class is carrying the entire load for this team, and the length of a basketball season could tire these young men out.

Stanford (6-3)
National Rankings: none
RPI: 86
Top 50 RPI wins: none
Bad losses: none

I would have Stanford ahead of UCLA, but they still wouldn’t make my final cut for March Madness today. The Cardinal have no bad losses, but they have no great wins either–they are just sort of there. Though Stanford has a respectable strength of schedule, they have to beat one of the tougher opponents on that schedule to raise the eyebrows of the Committee. Until then, I’m not seeing it.

Who did Lunardi leave out?

Nobody. If anything, ESPN’s bracketology–as of right now–has too many teams in. Similar to Stanford, teams like Oregon State (5-2) and ASU (8-1) have no horrible losses but would not impress the Committee due to lack of any good wins. Washington (4-4) is the most dissapointing team of the Pac-12 this year and have a lot of work to do to even get near what might be considered a bubble. The most improved team in the Pac-12 this year so far appears to be Utah (5-3), but only because they were so unwatchably awful last year–they could pull off some upsets this year, but it won’t be enough for serious consideration. USC (3-6) and Washington State (6-4) will not have what it takes.

Topics: Arizona Wildcats, Pac-12 Basketball

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