California guard Jorge Gutierrez (2) shoots a layup as Darnell Gant (44) chases. California won 69-66. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

The Pac-12 Bubble Rankings for February 20th


Only 3 conference games remain. The bubble picture is starting to get a little clearer with California becoming a virtual lock for the NCAA tournament, Washington sees its path becoming a lot clearer, and Arizona, Oregon, and Colorado have work to do still. Let’s see what their chances are moving forward.

—– Possible NCAA Tournament Teams —–

1) California (22-6 overall, 12-3 in Pac-12, RPI 29)- Oregon certainly gave the Golden Bears everything they could want in Berkeley on Thursday. But, Cal was able to survive and then dispatched the Beavers with relative ease to put themselves in a fine position to take the Pac-12 regular season title. While Utah should not be much of a challenge, they still have a tough road game against Colorado and a rivalry game against Stanford. But. with 22 wins already and an RPI in the 20′s, they have now become a virtual lock for the NCAA tournament.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 95% Projected Seed: 6

2) Washington (19-8 overall, 12-3 in Pac-12, RPI 53)- I loved the start the Huskies had against Arizona State. They were running and scored an impressive 46 points in the first half. But, I was not happy to see them go on cruise control up 22 and allow the Sun Devils to get back to within 11 with 12 minutes to go. This team just doesn’t have the margin for error to take those kinds of risks. But, against Arizona they managed to put together a whole 40 minutes against another fellow bubble team to earn the season sweep. That has to look good for the NCAA tournament selection committee. Brendan Sherrer got the start, playing for the first time ever in a game that was not a blowout. But, his Human Victory Cigar magic still worked, as the team remains undefeated in games he plays in. The Huskies are now very close to earning an at-large bid. If they win these three road games they are in. Even if they go 2-1, then I think 1-2 wins in the Pac-12 tournament should do it.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 65% Projected Seed: 10

3) Arizona (19-9 overall, 10-5 in Pac-12, RPI 67)- Despite the scare in Pullman and the loss in Seattle, the Arizona Wildcats only saw their RPI drop by one spot this week. While their chances to earn the regular season crown may have evaporated, they are still in a position to get one of the top four seeds in the Pac-12 tournament and get a first round bye. They have three of the easier games left on the schedule with home games against USC and UCLA and finish up in Tempe against ASU. If they win all three games, I think they’ll make the NCAA tournament. It would be even more helped by a win or two in the Pac-12 tournament.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 50% Projected Seed: 11

4) Oregon (19-8 overall, 10-5 in Pac-12, RPI 61)- Oregon gave Cal all it could handle in Berkeley. But, with that loss and the Washington sweep at home, their chances of winning the Pac-12 regular title are all but nil at this stage. But, the Ducks still have something to play for. They have three winnable games to end the season, with a game in Corvallis against Oregon State and then two home games against Colorado and Utah. If they can sweep these three games and win two in the Pac-12 tournament, they might just be able to squeak into the NCAA tournament as a 12-seed play-in the way USC did last year.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 40% Projected Seed: NIT #2 seed (host first two rounds at money-making Matt Knight Arena)

5) Colorado (18-8 overall, 10-4 in Pac-12, RPI 73)- The Buffaloes are going to have a hard time getting to the NCAA tournament. They have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the conference. They have two huge home games at home against Stanford and Cal and then road games against Oregon and Oregon state. They are the only team (other than Utah) that finish the season with 3-4 games against teams with winning records. If Colorado could manage to win 3 of 4, they would probably receive a huge boost to their RPI (not that who you play affects RPI), but more importantly it would really help their resume with the NCAA selection committee. But, in reality it seems 2–2 is more likely and a trip to the NIT is in the offing.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 20% Projected Seed: (#4 seed in NIT – host first round)

—– Likely NIT Teams —-

6) Stanford (18-9 overall, 8-7 in Pac-12, RPI 93)- The once vaunted 10-2 Cardinal lost 5 of 6 until playing USC last week. They beat Oregon State at home and then — to Oregon. Their record is nice, but an RPI in the 90′s just isn’t going to get it done. They don’t deserve to make the NCAA tournament, but they do deserve some post-season play and a road game in the NIT seems like a nice reward for an overachieving season.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 5% Projected Seed: #6 seed in NIT

—– Possible CBI Teams —–

7) UCLA (15-12 overall, 8-6 in Pac-12, RPI 134)- UCLA has an atrocious RPI in the 130′s, and a winning record. They played St. John’s tough on the road, but this was a Johnnie’s team that is just 11-16. They have four tough games to end the season by going to Arizona and then hosting the Washington schools to end the season. If they can manage to go 2-2 in those last four, I think they will probably get invited to the CBI. I mean, no matter how disappointing the season went, who wouldn’t want UCLA in your tournament?

8) Oregon State (15-12 overall, 5-10 in Pac-12, RPI 144)- How disappointing to the Beaver fans out there to see their 10-2 team go just 5-10 in the Pac-12. For all the hype Craig Robinson was receiving for turning the team around, it’s all fallen apart. Now it is looking like even the CBI is a remote chance. They still have Oregon and Colorado to play. If they go 1-2 in those last three, do they deserve any post-season?

9) Washington State (14-13 overall, 56-9 in Pac-12, RPI 178)- There is no team that epitomizes the .500 club better than the Cougars. They seem to win every other game, almost like clockwork. The last time they won or lost more than two-in-a-row was way back in December when they won 6 straight against teams like Grambling, Idaho, and Pepperdine. They are a team to watch out for, especially for the Huskies this week. The Cougs played UW tough in Seattle the first time. This week, they took Arizona to the wire and then absolutely blasted Arizona State. Ken Bone deserves some credit for taking a team who lost Klay and Casto and keeping them competitive. I don’t know if the CBI would come calling. But, if they can finish above .500 to finish the season, they probably deserve it.

—– Not Going Anywhere —–

10) Arizona State (8-19 overall, 4-11 in Pac-12, RPI 236)- Two blowout losses in the state of Washington. Wow, the Sun Devils have fallen so far from the James Harden and Jeff Pendergast era just three seasons ago.

11) Utah (5-21 overall, 2-12 in Pac-12, RPI 275)- Worst Pac-12 team in history? If RPI were the deciding factor, then maybe. But, amazingly there is a team even worse. Wonder how the recruiting is going for next year…

12) USC (6-21 overall, 1-13 in Pac-12, RPI 237)- Worst Pac-12 team in history? I know that the record of that Oregon State team that went 0-18 can not be beaten, but that was an era when the Pac-10 sent 5-6 teams to the NCAA tournament. Given the weakness of the conference and their atrocious 341st in the nation in scoring, this IS probably the worst team the conference has ever produced.

 

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