It was the last big week of non-conference action in the Pac-12, and while the conference didn't excel like previous weeks, enough teams got enough wins to keep the computer profile of the Pac-12 in solid shape. Let's dive right in to our typical four categories.
This Week in the Pac-12
Stanford 53, UConn 51
Oregon 100, BYU 96 OT
USC 79, Dayton 76, OT
Note how close the Pac-12 was from failing to notch a single good win in a week with eight opportunities. Luckily, conference members managed to win three of the four big games that were decided by 5 points or fewer. Additionally, the fact that a top 50 RPI win goes to a team widely expected to finish in the bottom third of the standings is a positive.
The Oregon BYU game was nuts, and a reminder that fast paced offense doesn't necessarily mean better offense. I can't recall many games I've watched with more wild drives to the basket in transition just for the sake of wild drives in transition. Neither team was particularly efficient, which is weird to say about a game when the winner scores 96, but that's what you get in a crazy fast paced game with an extra five minutes to score points.
Stanford's win over UConn gives the Cardinal an RPI top 50 non-conference win, something every team in the Pac-12 can boast about except Arizona State, Oregon State, Washington State, Washington, and Cal. Arkansas currently stands at 54th. Go Razorbacks!
Long Beach State 72, USC 71
UTEP 64, Washington State 51
It's rare for one team to pop up in both the ‘good win' and ‘bad loss' category in the same week, but I have a feeling that USC will be the most unpredictable team in the conference all year long as a bunch of new players try to adapt to each other and to Andy Enfield's run and gun strategy.
I'll give USC a pass considering that they were playing on the road amidst a coaching and roster transition. Washington State doesn't really have an excuse for losing badly at home in his 5th season in charge of the Cougars. Were he at any other program in the conference I suspect he'd be on the hot seat. Maybe he is anyway.
Duke 80, UCLA 63
Michigan 68, Stanford 65
Oklahoma State 78, Colorado 73
Creighton 68, California 54
UConn 82, Washington 70
Kudos to Stanford and Colorado for playing good teams tough. Washington isn't that great, so losing by 12 to UConn, even at home, sounds about right. And Cal has some injury excuses for their loss. UCLA's 17 loss to Duke at home is a bit perplexing, though.
Washington 73, Tulane 62
Oregon 91, UC Irvine 63
Arizona 69, Southern 43
Utah 69, Texas State 50
Arizona State 76, Texas Tech 62
UCLA 83, Weber State 60
Nothing to see here.
Next Week in the Pac-12
George Mason vs. Oregon State, 11:30 am
Northern Arizona at Arizona, 7:00 pm
Oregon State vs. St. Mary's or Hawaii
Mississippi Valley State at Washington, 7:30 pm
UC Irvine at Arizona State, 11:00 am
St. Katherine at Utah, 1:00 pm
Furman at California, 3:00 pm
Mississippi Valley State at Washington State, 5:00 pm
Georgia at Colorado, 7:00 pm
Alabama at UCLA, 7:00 pm
Morgan State at Oregon, Noon
Howard at USC, 2:00 pm
Cal Poly at Stanford, 4:00 pm
Hartford at Washington, 6:00 pm
Quinnipiac at Oregon State, 8:00 pm
So many questions. Does UC Irvine have a plan to play every Pac-12 team? What does it say about Washington that they got crushed by the Anteaters when everybody else beat them with relative ease? Is St. Katherine an actual university, and why is Utah playing them? How much is Mississippi Valley State getting paid to fly to Washington for back-to-back games against UW and WSU?
The Pac-12 could potentially go undefeated this week - most of the games are tune ups for conference play against lower conference cannon fodder. One exception is that Oregon State is participating in the Diamond Head Classic tournament in Craig Robinson's yearly quest to schedule his team around Barack's travel itinerary. The Beavers have already lost their opening game against Akron and will try to do better in the loser's bracket today and on Christmas.
The only two other games with much interest will be visits by SEC denizens Georgia and Alabama to Colorado and UCLA respectively. But Georgia is pretty bad, so Colorado really should win comfortable. Alabama is better than their record, but have lost close games to every decent team on a tough non-conference slate. UCLA will be favored.
Next week we'll survey the entire non-conference season and take a look at how already wrong our various pre-season perceptions look. The pre-test is almost over.