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The Pac-12: A 1/3rd-of-the-way heat check.

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

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    As if in the blink of an eye, the first third of conference play has passed. I figure that this third-pole offers a convenient opportunity to assess where the Pac-12 race stands, and how I see it developing.

    This is how the conference sits after the first three weeks of play:

    1. Oregon - 16-2 (5-0)
    2. UCLA - 15-4 (5-1)
    3. Arizona - 16-1 (4-1)
    4. Washington - 12-6 (4-1)
    5. Arizona St - 14-4 (3-2)
    6. USC - 8-11 (3-3)
    7. Stanford - 11-7 (2-3)
    8. Cal - 10-7 (2-3)
    9. CU - 12-6 (2-4)
    10. WSU - 10-8 (1-4)
    11. Utah - 9-9 (1-4)
    12. Oregon St - 10-8 (0-5)
    The first thing to note is that Arizona and UCLA have been playing to expectations. Good for them, and good for the reputation of the league. The Pac-12 needs the perceived front-runners to play to their level, and, so far, they've held true to form. I can't wait for Thursday's meeting in Tucson.


    As solid as the Wildcats and Bruins have been, however, it's the Oregon Ducks who have looked, far and away, like the conference's best team. Of their five wins, four of them have come against the league's top-half, including blockbuster belt notches over UCLA and Arizona. Through all of that they're unblemished, and have been posting the second-best offensive and defensive numbers in the conference. Their top-of-the-table standing is unquestioned at this point.
    [​IMG]
    The Matt rushed against Arizona. Now the Ducks are the hunted.

    As a bonus for the quackers, they don't have to play return games against either Arizona or UCLA. They'll ride out the season with two huge tie-breakers in their back pocket, ensuring that the title chase will be decided on Oregon's terms. As it stands right now, it's hard to imagine a version of the final standings that doesn't have the Ducks in the top-two.

    It's easy to look at the Buffs - who were projected by many to wind up in the top-quarter - as an early disappointment. I can make all the excuses available (front-loaded schedule, road difficulties, tilt), but the fact remains that CU has already dropped three games they should've won. Stanford has also failed to live up to preseason hype. All is not lost for the Buffs and Cardinal, however, and things could be much, much worse.
    [​IMG]
    Boulder is not alone in their concern over a poor start to Pac-12 play. Hair is being pulled in Palo Alto.

    How much worse? Just look at Oregon St. Coach Craig Robinson's stalling bunch stands alone in the winless basement of the conference. After a mostly ho-hum non-conference run, they entered conference play with hopes of competing for a solid mid-table finish. Instead, they've bottomed out. Granted, it's 0-5 against five of the current top-six, but, faced with a similar schedule, the Buffs were at least able to scrape out two wins.


    The Beavers' collapse was probably hinted at by a late-December loss to, of all teams, Towson. Yes, that's the same Towson Tigers who went one-for-the-season a year ago. The Tigers are better this campaign (above .500, in fact), but I still consider a loss to Towson the rough equivalent of 'Dre losing a game of 1-on-1 to his sister. In that light, we all should've seen the writing on the wall.
    [​IMG]
    Towson's stunner in Corvallis set the tone for a horrific post-Christmas run by the Beavers. From: Towson Athletics

    I watched the OSU/UCLA game last week, and found Bill Walton still talking up both the Beavers, and how competitive they will be. (Specifically, he called them "intriguing" and repeatedly said they were a "good basketball team.") Certainly, Oregon St isn't as bad as their standing indicates, but good 'ole Bill over-sold the pony. While they should make in-roads towards .500, the start is crippling. OSU should avoid the basement come March, but that might not matter when the butcher's bill comes due at the end of the season. Craig Robinson, you might want to keep the movers on speed dial.


    --

    Re-calculating the final standings

    Considering the start, I've revised my Pac-12 predictions to the following:

    1. Oregon (in a tie-break)
    2. Arizona
    3. UCLA
    4. Washington (in a tie-break)
    5. CU (11-7, 21-9 overall)
    6. Stanford
    7. ASU
    8. USC
    9. Cal
    10. OSU
    11. Utah
    12. WSU

    Expect a massive gap between the top-three and the rest of the Pac-12. Think three with 14+ wins, and no one else above 11. The top three have shown they deserve that recognition.

    There's still hope that CU could finish with the 11-7 record I predicted at the season's onset, with 9-9 as a worst-case. With seven home games remaining, is there any doubt that winning at least five is a probability? Adding an upset over either Oregon or Arizona ('Zona is more likely) would then make for six. Beyond that, there are three strong opportunities for road wins. Utah, OSU, and Cal are undeniably vulnerable, even when factoring in CU's misadventures away from Boulder. Sweep those (a leap, but not a long one), and the Buffs slide home with 11 Pac-12 wins and bubble consideration. Not too bad, all things considered.

    Washington is kind of an enigma for me. They don't pass my smell test, but I have no concrete reason for dropping them - they've been winning games, including their first three on the road. That has to count for something. Arizona St, on the flip side, reeks of fluke. Their wins include a one-point overtime win over Utah, an overpowering comeback against a mentally broken CU squad, and a road win over the hapless Beavers. If I were in Vegas this week, I'd be betting heavily on their under.

    I expect USC to lose some questionable games, and slip below mid-table. The coaching move has to break them down eventually, even though they've looked good in the post-Kevin O'Neill era. (*cough* JT Terrell *cough*) I like Stanford to take their place, and round out the top-six.

    I'll revisit all this in three weeks to see how wrong I am.

    [​IMG]

    As if in the blink of an eye, the first third of conference play has passed. I figure that this third-pole offers a convenient opportunity to assess where the Pac-12 race stands, and how I see it developing.

    This is how the conference sits after the first three weeks of play:

    1. Oregon - 16-2 (5-0)
    2. UCLA - 15-4 (5-1)
    3. Arizona - 16-1 (4-1)
    4. Washington - 12-6 (4-1)
    5. Arizona St - 14-4 (3-2)
    6. USC - 8-11 (3-3)
    7. Stanford - 11-7 (2-3)
    8. Cal - 10-7 (2-3)
    9. CU - 12-6 (2-4)
    10. WSU - 10-8 (1-4)
    11. Utah - 9-9 (1-4)
    12. Oregon St - 10-8 (0-5)
    The first thing to note is that Arizona and UCLA have been playing to expectations. Good for them, and good for the reputation of the league. The Pac-12 needs the perceived front-runners to play to their level, and, so far, they've held true to form. I can't wait for Thursday's meeting in Tucson.


    As solid as the Wildcats and Bruins have been, however, it's the Oregon Ducks who have looked, far and away, like the conference's best team. Of their five wins, four of them have come against the league's top-half, including blockbuster belt notches over UCLA and Arizona. Through all of that they're unblemished, and have been posting the second-best offensive and defensive numbers in the conference. Their top-of-the-table standing is unquestioned at this point.
    [​IMG]
    The Matt rushed against Arizona. Now the Ducks are the hunted.

    As a bonus for the quackers, they don't have to play return games against either Arizona or UCLA. They'll ride out the season with two huge tie-breakers in their back pocket, ensuring that the title chase will be decided on Oregon's terms. As it stands right now, it's hard to imagine a version of the final standings that doesn't have the Ducks in the top-two.

    It's easy to look at the Buffs - who were projected by many to wind up in the top-quarter - as an early disappointment. I can make all the excuses available (front-loaded schedule, road difficulties, tilt), but the fact remains that CU has already dropped three games they should've won. Stanford has also failed to live up to preseason hype. All is not lost for the Buffs and Cardinal, however, and things could be much, much worse.
    [​IMG]
    Boulder is not alone in their concern over a poor start to Pac-12 play. Hair is being pulled in Palo Alto.

    How much worse? Just look at Oregon St. Coach Craig Robinson's stalling bunch stands alone in the winless basement of the conference. After a mostly ho-hum non-conference run, they entered conference play with hopes of competing for a solid mid-table finish. Instead, they've bottomed out. Granted, it's 0-5 against five of the current top-six, but, faced with a similar schedule, the Buffs were at least able to scrape out two wins.


    The Beavers' collapse was probably hinted at by a late-December loss to, of all teams, Towson. Yes, that's the same Towson Tigers who went one-for-the-season a year ago. The Tigers are better this campaign (above .500, in fact), but I still consider a loss to Towson the rough equivalent of 'Dre losing a game of 1-on-1 to his sister. In that light, we all should've seen the writing on the wall.
    [​IMG]
    Towson's stunner in Corvallis set the tone for a horrific post-Christmas run by the Beavers. From: Towson Athletics

    I watched the OSU/UCLA game last week, and found Bill Walton still talking up both the Beavers, and how competitive they will be. (Specifically, he called them "intriguing" and repeatedly said they were a "good basketball team.") Certainly, Oregon St isn't as bad as their standing indicates, but good 'ole Bill over-sold the pony. While they should make in-roads towards .500, the start is crippling. OSU should avoid the basement come March, but that might not matter when the butcher's bill comes due at the end of the season. Craig Robinson, you might want to keep the movers on speed dial.


    --

    Re-calculating the final standings

    Considering the start, I've revised my Pac-12 predictions to the following:

    1. Oregon (in a tie-break)
    2. Arizona
    3. UCLA
    4. Washington (in a tie-break)
    5. CU (11-7, 21-9 overall)
    6. Stanford
    7. ASU
    8. USC
    9. Cal
    10. OSU
    11. Utah
    12. WSU

    Expect a massive gap between the top-three and the rest of the Pac-12. Think three with 14+ wins, and no one else above 11. The top three have shown they deserve that recognition.

    There's still hope that CU could finish with the 11-7 record I predicted at the season's onset, with 9-9 as a worst-case. With seven home games remaining, is there any doubt that winning at least five is a probability? Adding an upset over either Oregon or Arizona ('Zona is more likely) would then make for six. Beyond that, there are three strong opportunities for road wins. Utah, OSU, and Cal are undeniably vulnerable, even when factoring in CU's misadventures away from Boulder. Sweep those (a leap, but not a long one), and the Buffs slide home with 11 Pac-12 wins and bubble consideration. Not too bad, all things considered.

    Washington is kind of an enigma for me. They don't pass my smell test, but I have no concrete reason for dropping them - they've been winning games, including their first three on the road. That has to count for something. Arizona St, on the flip side, reeks of fluke. Their wins include a one-point overtime win over Utah, an overpowering comeback against a mentally broken CU squad, and a road win over the hapless Beavers. If I were in Vegas this week, I'd be betting heavily on their under.

    I expect USC to lose some questionable games, and slip below mid-table. The coaching move has to break them down eventually, even though they've looked good in the post-Kevin O'Neill era. (*cough* JT Terrell *cough*) I like Stanford to take their place, and round out the top-six.

    I'll revisit all this in three weeks to see how wrong I am.

    [​IMG]

    Originally posted by The Rumblings of a Deranged Buffalo
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