As a reminder: This space is still a football free zone until I've suitably recovered from the scarring caused by this football season. That could take anywhere between two weeks and seven years. Until then, Go Badgers.
Time for our weekly rundown of Pac-12 non-conference results:
Washington 66, St. Louis 61
Southern Methodist 62, Utah 55
Wyoming 76, Colorado 69
San Diego State 78, UCLA 69
Wisconsin 81, Cal 56
Kansas 84, Oregon State 78
So yeah, after a few pretty decent weeks of results, the conference had a rough go of it this week. Granted, there weren't many decent games and the conference generally avoided bad losses. On a side note, does Utah losing to a mediocre small school on the road count as a bad loss? For anybody else in the conference it would, but the Utes might still need to be graded on a curve.
I don't think anybody expected Oregon State to beat Kansas, but of the other four games against decent competition the Pac-12 only managed one win. Thanks, Washington. Luckily, the entire Pac-12 has a chance for redemption this week. Unluckily, that means an equal opportunity for failure.
The best news is that the seemingly mediocre performances haven't negatively impacted the computer numbers yet. Live RPI.com has the Pac-12 as the 4th best conference by RPI, just a hair behind the ACC for 3rd. Five teams are in the top 50 (Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Cal and Washington) and nobody has an RPI of 200 or more like ASU, USC and Utah did last year.
Frankly, everybody in the conference has basically matched or bettered pre-season expectations, with one very obvious exception. Those poor Bruins lost Josh Smith, lost decisively to San Diego State, and sport an RPI of 131, good for 11th in the conference and smack dab between Gardner Webb and Fairfield. Yikes.
Yet we're just barely past the halfway mark of the non-conference season, which means there's plenty of time to change those numbers for the better or for the worse. The idea of having 5 RPI top 50 teams in the conference seems like an embarrassment of riches, but it will take more wins. It's time to look at what's on tap, but first an important message:
A Plea To Oregon State Coach Craig Robinson
Dear Coach Robinson,
You and I have had our differences, mostly because of that damned 1-3-1 zone that was, for reasons I still can't fathom, the only thing that could disrupt Jerome Randle. But this goes beyond petty differences, and about what's best for our conference.
In your first four years as Oregon State head coach, here are the non-conference strength of schedule rankings each year according to Ken Pomeroy:
Those numbers are embarrassing. I get that scheduling is an inexact science. Maybe ESPN assigns you to a crummy pre-season tournament. Maybe a few teams you schedule turn out to be way worse than expected. And I can certainly understand not wanting to overburden your team if they're just not very good. But OSU has been an OK team over the last few years, and yet you still schedule like you're coaching in the SWAC. Come on, look at your upcoming schedule:
Texas Pan American
My God! Live RPI projects every single one of those teams to finish the year with an RPI of 226 or lower! You're playing two teams from the Great West Conference . . . THAT CONFERENCE DOESN'T EVEN GET AN NCAA TOURNAMENT BID!!!
Listen, this isn't just about my self-interests as a Pac-12 fan - this is about your job security! Oregon State won't ever sniff the NCAA tournament playing schedules like this, and you're sinking the rest of the conference in the process. Obviously, there's zero upside to winning these games, but what if you actually lose one of these games? Not counting the pre-season tournament games that get assigned to you, you scheduled ONE decent team, which was Kansas, a team the Beavers are very unlikely to beat.
Craig Robinson, you're scheduling yourself out of a job, unless the administration at Oregon State don't expect you to ever make the NCAA tournament.
USC at Nebraska, 5:00, Big-10 Network
Southern Miss at Arizona, 6:30, Pac-12 Network
Hartford at Arizona State
Boise State at Utah
USC at New Mexico
Colorado State at Colorado
Gonzaga at Washington State
Colorado at Kansas, 11:00, ESPN2
CS Northridge at Arizona State, 11:00, Pac-12 Network
Grambling State at Oregon State, 1:00, Pac-12 Network
UCLA at Texas, 2:15, ESPN
Idaho State at Oregon, 3:00, Pac-12 Network
Arizona at Clemson, 5:00, ESPN2
Nevada at Washington, 5:00, Pac-12 Network
Utah at BYU, 6:00
Minnesota at USC, 7:30, Pac-12 Network
Fresno State at Washington State, 12:00, Pac-12 Network
UNLV at California, 3:00, ESPNU
This is the week that will help decide if the Mountain West has incredibly annoying bragging rights over the Pac-12 for another year, and I'm not terribly optimistic. Here's the run down
Boise St. at Utah - Likely MWC
CSU at Colorado - Lean Pac-12
USC at New Mexico - Likely MWC
Nevada at Washington - Lean Pac-12
Fresno State at Washington State - Lean Pac-12
UNLV at Cal - Toss up, though my blue tinted glasses make me feel less optimistic than that.
Of course, the MWC is already up 4-2 on the Pac-12, so our conference mates need to go 4-2 this week just to tie things up. Luckily WAC cast-offs Nevada and Fresno State have a few more games against Pac-12 teams later for us to take the imaginary title!
I'll also be looking to see if Colorado can hang with Kansas after a week of ugly basketball, and how about the all-disappointing bowl between UCLA and Texas! Is it more embarrassing to lose to Cal Poly or Chaminade? Arizona and USC both face a bunch of tough teams this week as well, and in Arizona's case it's about time.