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This Week In The Pac-12: Battle With Mountain West A Draw?

Is the Mountain West gaining the upper hand over the Pac-12?

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

As always, here's our weekly breakdown:

Good wins
Arizona 66, Clemson 54
Utah 76, Boise State 55
Colorado 70, Colorado State 61

Bad losses
Nevada 76, Washington 73

Missed opportunities
Nebraska 63, USC 51
New Mexico 75, USC 67
Gonzaga 71, Washington State 69
Kansas 90, Colorado 54
BYU 61, Utah 58
Minnesota 71, USC 58
UNLV 76, Cal 75

So close. So, so close. Washington State, Cal and Utah all lost tight games that they arguably should have won in part because of late blown leads. And Washington stains things with a loss that I'd love to bash them over, except while I watched it seemed pretty fluky. Nevada hit some crazy circus shots and UW was seriously hampered by injuries. Still very very frustrating.

The worst result of the week was probably Kansas' demolition of Colorado. Like Cal's loss to Missouri last year, Colorado's national perception took a major hit and will cast suspicion on the rest of the conference if they contend as most expect them to. At least the Buffs have their win over Baylor to fall back on, although the Bears have done them no favors by dropping games to Charleston and Northwestern.

The highlight of the week was 5 games between the Pac-12 and the Mountain West, and thanks to Washington's loss the MWC prevailed 3-2, pushing the overall record between the two conferences to 7-5 in favor of the MWC. 'Luckily' there are still 3 games between the Pac-12 and the MWC, and they involve relatively strong Pac-12 teams and relatively weak MWC teams. Don't blow this, guys. Although I must say, the strong showing of MWC teams (63-16 as a conference) has really helped out the strength-of-schedule numbers for the Pac-12. West coast pride?

And yet, week after week of seemingly mediocre results hasn't negatively impacted the computer numbers of the conference. Realtime RPI lists the Pac-12 as the 2nd best conference, which sounds silly because it is silly. But as we've seen time and time again, the RPI matters more than any other measure on Selection Sunday, so it's great news for the conference.

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!

From one perspective, it's tempting to think that the Pac-12 has basically established a computer baseline with 80% of the non-conference season over. On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if a collection of bad games still left on the schedule might eventually torpedo what has otherwise been a very strong conference-wide strength-of-schedule. Stay tuned . . .

Next Week

No Games

DePaul at Arizona State
Colorado at Fresno State
Oregon State at Portland State

Jackson State at Washington State
Washington at Seattle

No games

Dartmouth at Arizona State
Nebraska at Oregon
UC Davis at Stanford
UC Riverside at USC
Jackson State at Washington
Prairie View A&M at UCLA
Florida at Arizona
Creighton at California

Lots of bad, bad games this week. In fact, there are really only 4 games that are remotely relevant:

  • Colorado at Fresno State - included out of respect to road games against the MWC. The Buffs should still win if Kansas didn't destroy their souls too badly.
  • Nebraska at Oregon - The Huskers are one of just 2 or 3 Big 10 teams that wouldn't immediately compete at the top of the Pac-12 if they switched conferences, but they're still decent. Oregon really should beat them at home.
  • Creighton at Cal: Perhaps the 2nd most important game left on Cal's schedule after their visit to the desert against Arizona.
  • Florida at Arizona: If Arizona could win this game it would be a gigantic feather in the cap of the Pac-12. It would immediately legitimize the Wildcats, and thus by extension any team that beats Arizona. GO CATS.
I guess I can't blame Pac-12 coaches for scheduling cupcakes around finals, but man is the collection of games this week uninspiring. It would be disappointing if the conference picks up more than two losses this week. JINX!