Pac-12 Bubble Watch for February 28th


We’re down to our final week of conference play. The Pac-12 regular season title is still up for grabs.  NCAA tournament berths are still on the line. Six or seven teams still have everything to play for to position themselves for the Pac-12 tournament and to try ad get into a post-season tournament.

—– Possible NCAA Tournament Teams —–

1) California (23-7 overall, 13-4 in Pac-12, RPI 36)- The loss in Boulder may have dampened their hopes to win the Pac-12 regular season championship outright, but it did not dramatically affect their chances of making the NCAA tournament. They still have a strong RPI and an overall good record and a loss in Boulder to a decent Colorado team will not be held against them. But, now that they have lost one, the best it seems they can do is tie for the Pac-12 title with Washington if they beat Stanford and UW splits in Los Angeles.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 92% Projected Seed: 8

2) Washington (20-8 overall, 13-3 in Pac-12, RPI 52)- Beat WSU in Pullman and see your RPI rise by one. It wasn’t the prettiest victory, as few of them have, but wins are wins and the resilience that this team has shown to earn victories when things are not going well is impressive. Now comes a trip to Los Angeles with the Pac-12 title on the line. Sweep USC and UCLA and they will be the outright conference champions tied with the best conference record in school history. Pretty amazing feat if they can manage it, even in this weakened league. But, you can’t take things for granted. USC may be bad, but they will make you earn it and UCLA is playing for seeding in the conference tournament and possibly a spot in a post-season tournament.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 70% Projected Seed: 10

3) Arizona (21-9 overall, 12-5 in Pac-12, RPI 67)- Two wins against the Los Angeles schools earned Arizona exactly one spot in the RPI this week. Nonetheless, they now have 21 wins and are starting to get the national press to notice them. Why the ESPN bracketologists keep putting them ahead of UW in the mock brackets given that the Huskies swept them, have a better conference record, and have a higher RPI is beyond me. But, it seems like when the media want something, its bound to happen, so look for Arizona to make the Big Dance and inexplicably end up with a higher seed than the Huskies.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 70% Projected Seed: 9

4) Oregon (20-8 overall, 11-5 in Pac-12, RPI 53)- The Oregon Ducks are on the very knife’s edge of the bubble. They only have an 11-5 record in this weak conference and sit in fourth overall. Their RPI is within the zone of consideration, but isn’t going to wow anyone. In fact, it seems their only “marquee” wins are against Washington and Arizona, which doesn’t say much for their chances. If they can win their last two and two in the conference tournament, they might make it. But, it’s going to be close.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 45% Projected Seed: NIT #1 seed (host first two rounds at money-making Matt Knight Arena)

—– Likely NIT Teams —-

5) Colorado (19-8 overall, 11-5 in Pac-12, RPI 72)- That loss to Stanford just about killed their chances to make the NCAA tournament. On the other hand, they dropped Cal. They are the only team in the conference who have beaten all of the other top five teams with wins over Arizona, Oregon, and Washington. But, is that enough? It seems they really have to beat both Oregon and Oregon State this weekend and then win two in the Pac-12 tournament to have a realistic chance to make the NCAA tournament.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 30% Projected Seed: (#4 seed in NIT – host first round)

6) Stanford (19-10 overall, 9-8 in Pac-12, RPI 106)- OK, can someone explain this to me? The Cardinal went to Boulder and became the only Pac-12 to beat Colorado in their house, and by beat them, I mean whoop them. Then, they head over to play Utah, with its RPI of 264, and lost? When their chances of making the Big Dance were on the line? Now, their at-large chances are officially dead. Their only realistic chance to make the NCAA tournament would be to win the Pac-12 tournament.

Probability of making the NCAA Tournament: 2% Projected Seed: #7 seed in NIT

—– Possible CBI Teams —–

7) UCLA (15-13 overall, 9-7 in Pac-12, RPI 132)- Is Ben Howland on the hot seat? Many Husky Haul readers seem to think so. With his team dropping to just 15-13, it seems they have not been able to pull themselves together enough to make a serious run at a post-season tournament. Perhaps it is best for them to sit this year out and regroup. But, I suspect if the CBI comes calling, they’ll take it.

8) Oregon State (15-13 overall, 5-11 in Pac-12, RPI 154)- The Beavers will probably not even be going to the CBI unless they make a seriously unexpected run in the Pac-12 tournament. But, the way they are playing in the 2nd half of the season is atrocious.

—– Not Going Anywhere —–

9) Washington State (14-14 overall, 6-10 in Pac-12, RPI 185)- I’ve heard a few calls for Ken Bone’s head, but I think that is a bit unfair, given the rebuilding he needed to do following the loss of Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto. It does seem he has found a star in Brock Motum. Bone will get another season, especially given how difficult it is to get quality coaches to come to Pullman.

10) Arizona State (9-20 overall, 5-12 in Pac-12, RPI 251)- The Herb Sendek death-watch has begun…

11) Utah (6-22 overall, 3-13 in Pac-12, RPI 275)- Wow, huge win for this program to beat Stanford when the Cardinal had a lot to play for. While Utah isn’t wow’ing anyone, maybe his players are starting to buy into the system.

12) USC (6-21 overall, 1-15 in Pac-12, RPI 256)- Worst Pac-12 team in history…Hope they don’t prove me wrong by beating the Huskies this week.