Pac-10 Basketball in Disarray

Take a look at this week's Associated Press men's basketball rankings.

1. Texas
2. Kentucky
3. Kansas
4. Villanova
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan State
7. Duke
8. Tennessee
9. Pittsburgh
10. Kansas State
11. West Virginia
12. Georgetown
13. Purdue
14. Brigham Young
15. Gonzaga
16. Temple
17. Clemson
18. Wisconsin
19. Georgia Tech
20. Northern Iowa
21. Ohio State
22. Mississippi
23. Mississippi State
24. North Carolina
25. Baylor

Notice anything missing?

The Pacific-10 Conference. It's not there, vanished like "Yes, We Can" and Harry Reid's NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award.

Now I'm not going to go researching when the last time the Pac-10 was totally shut out of the AP rankings (last week), because frankly, historical context is overrated in sports. Who cares when the last this happened was?

The fact is the only Pac-10 team anywhere near the AP top 25 is Arizona State, languishing between Old Dominion and Marshall at the bottom of the "Others Receiving Votes" section.

What in the name of John Robert Wooden is going on here?

Now if this was football, I could understand it. The Pac has some quality football history, but it's in spurts. The Pac-10 is a basketball conference. Always has been, always will be.

And that's what makes the current predicament so damn odd. Take a look at the conference standings after last weekend's games. Just six games into the conference season, every team already has at least two wins and two losses. The difference between first-place ASU (14-5, 4-2 Pac-10) and last-place UCLA (7-10, 2-3) is a paltry game and a half.

Think about that again: First-place Arizona State, last-place UCLA. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the upside-down nature of the Pac-10 in 2010.

(Funny note on UCLA — I'm friends with former Southwest Missouri State star center Danny Moore, who led SMS to the 1999 Sweet 16 and still keeps close tabs on college hoops. And we were talking about the Pac-10, and UCLA came up. Danny's description of UCLA: "A bunch of white guys with knee braces." That's a long way away from three consecutive Final Fours for Ben Howland and crew.)

If you were just looking at team-by-team RPI rankings according to ESPN's InsideRPI Daily, you'd have a hard time differentiating between the Pacific 10 and some mid-major conferences.

Here, give it a shot. Which of the below conference RPIs belong to the Pac-10?

Conference A: 15, 65, 72, 88, 90, 108, 128, 142, 228, 264

Conference B: 25, 53, 56, 61, 71, 94, 133, 156, 167, 196

Conference C: 19, 23, 41, 43, 98, 126, 160, 200, 227

The answer: Conference B, with Cal leading the way at 25, followed by Washington (53), USC (56), ASU (61), Arizona (71), Washington State (94), Stanford (133), Oregon (156), UCLA (167), and Oregon State (196).

The other two mystery conferences: the Missouri Valley is Conference A, led by Northern Iowa (15). The Mountain West is Conference C, with New Mexico and BYU near locks for March Madness.

And considering some of the lopsided defeats suffered by Pac-10 schools at the hands of Mountain West schools (BYU especially), you can argue the Pacific-10 — the self-proclaimed Conference of Champions — isn't even the best basketball conference in the West.

Further, it's no stretch to say the Pac-10 is a one-bid league right now. And every single team is so flawed that you can't possibly predict who is going to come out of this mess.

California was looking good until they got waxed on Saturday by enigmatic Washington, who itself had just lost to Arizona by 17 six days earlier.

Arizona State currently sits in first and has won four in a row, but can you really trust a team that lost 47-37 to USC a few weeks back?

Arizona has some really talented kids, but they haven't won more than two games in a row all season.

Washington State has perhaps the Conference Player of the Year in Klay Thompson, but it's a long drop to their next best offensive weapon. Stanford is trying to find a way for the Lopez brothers to regain their eligibility (and I'm guessing Brook, star of the 3-412 New Jersey Nets, wishes he could). Oregon should have fired Ernie Kent a long time ago. USC is bound for a Kevin O'Neill burnout. Oregon State got hammered by 51 in their own gym by independent Seattle. And UCLA is a bunch of white guys with knee braces.

That's it. There's your 2009-2010 Pacific 10 Conference. It's a mess and there is no quick fix.

Unless maybe somebody buys John Calipari and his next big recruiting class. It seems to have done wonders for Kentucky.

In any event, Pac-10 fans better pay close attention to the first weekend of the NCAA tournament this year, because it looks real unlikely any Pac school will be around for the second.

Leave a Comment

Featured Site