3. Make your bracketology projections? What is the Pac-12 team that stands out the most.
LEastCoastBear: Sadly, this loss limit how high Cal can potentially be seeded in the NCAA tournament. Fortunately for the Bears, there is still opportunities to get a win over a ranked opponent with Creighton next and other Pac-12 teams (Arizona and possibly Colorado).
NorcalNick As of right now, 3 Pac-12 teams look obviously tournament worthy, whether because of their resume or because of their level of performance and presumed talent. Arizona, Oregon and Colorado are all in pretty good shape in my mind. Cal is arguably in that category and will join them if they knock off Creighton.
After those 4 teams it looks pretty iffy. Arizona State actually has the best computer numbers, but they have zero wins that would impress the committe, and I just doubt that the Sun Devils have improved enough from last year anyway. If they play above .500 basketball in the Pac-12 I'll give them an outside shot, but I'm not counting on it. After that you've got a bunch of teams with obvious warts. UCLA and Washington both have bad losses on their resume. Stanford and USC have both played strong schedules but have failed to beat any of the good teams. Oregon State's strength of schedule is going to take a dive off a cliff over the next few weeks. Utah and Washington State just aren't good enough to really consider.
I have a feeling that UW's two close home losses to Albany and Nevada will really come back and bite this conference, because if the Huskies had won both games they would sport two good wins and no bad losses.
Mark me down for 4 teams in the tournament. I don't think the conference will get fewer than 4 teams, but I might be willing to revise my number upward if there are some upsets over the next few weeks.
Avinash: Not as dire as last year, but if we want to improve our seeding we need to torch through the rest of the schedule. Here are the current RPI standings for the Pac-12.
That's the list of teams even close to top-50 RPI right now. Unless Arizona runs the table and loses only two-three games all season, the conference will start dipping in Pac-12 play. Cal must beat Oregon, Arizona, Colorado (maybe ASU?) to notch some top-50 RPI wins in conference play. It's unfortunate we play the Wildcats only once in Tucson, but Oregon and Colorado are games we must have.
TwistNHook: NorCalNick's post had some interesting tidbits. I think that Utah has a chance to make some strides this year. They did lose to BYU, but also beat Boise State.NorCalNick states:
The biggest difference? Don't look now, but the Utah Utes might actually be OK. They only have one truly bad loss on the resume, and that's offset by a nice win over Boise State. Combine Utah's improvement with better performances from USC and Arizona State, and there are no truly awful teams in the conference. In 2012-13, the bad teams will be bad by normal power conference standards, not bad by Big Sky standards!
VincentS: Colorado seems most likely to make a run. UCLA could surprise if the young pieces finally come together (you just know they will, after laying several fat eggs in the non-conference schedule). I'm not sure what to think about for Arizona yet. Oregon also looks dangerous. I think these schools and Stanford will be the ones in contention with us for NCAA bids. I will say that our chances of making the field slip dramatically if we lose to Creighton (no duh, right?).
boomtho: I still think (hope!) Cal makes it... but probably as a low seed like last year, and potentially a play-in. It's killing us that we haven't distinguished ourselves recently in OOC play - that's really going to put pressure on us come Pac-12 play. I still think the P12 gets 2-3 bids for the tourney, so that should leave room for non-tourney winners to make it as at-large teams.
I don't know that anyone "stands out" the most to me. UCLA as a negative, perhaps. Arizona has the perfect record but hasn't beaten anyone notable - their game against UF should be a good indicator of what to expect from them. Colorado has been a surprise (beating the fighting Gary Franklins!) but I'm not quite sold yet. I guess my answer is "ask again later."