The 2014–15 Basketball season has come to a close and all Pac-12 teams have finished up their tournament play. A couple of teams went dancing and evil conquered all in the NIT, but how much of an effect did that have on our writers and our Power Rankings?
The number of first-place votes earned by each team is listed parenthetically and in the event of a tie, those teams will be listed alphabetically.
boomtho: Not going to do individual blurbs, but overall, my rankings basically mirror the final regular season standings. There weren't enough surprises in the NCAA tourney to disrupt that model, and Stanford winning the NIT doesn't do enough in my mind to boost them over UCLA, who also made the Sweet 16. I thought about bumping UCLA above Oregon, but their path to the Sweet 16 was pretty easy, and they were easily dispatched by the Zags.
atomsareenough: Mine are pretty similar, except I flipped Washington and USC because that sort of disaster isn't supposed to happen at an established program with a long-tenured coach.
Nick Kranz: I'm basically skipping out on commenting about what each team did this year, and focusing instead on what they will be bringing next year. Teams are listed based on my end-of-season rankings, but I've put in a guess as to where I would rank these teams for predicted 2015–16 performance.
ragnarok: I didn't really touch any rankings outside of the top 6, since no one else played in a post-season tournament, though I decided to drop ASU a couple of spots for firing Coach Sendek and currently being without a head coach.
1. Arizona Wildcats (4)
Last week: 1
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 1): The Wildcats clearly had the best team in 2014-15, and no matter how many players declare for the draft (Johnson, Ashley, Tarczewski and Hollis-Jefferson all might leave in addition to senior McConnell. So Arizona could conceivable lose their entire starting 5 . . . and still be favorites for next year because Sean Miller currently has the best recruiting class in the conference, if not the nation. Currently!
ragnarok: Battled Wisconsin tough in the Elite Eight. The Pac-12 still hasn't had a national champion in Men's Basketball since the Wildcats pulled off the feat almost 20 years ago.
2. Utah Utes
Last week: 3
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 2): Utah deserved a Sweet 16 run based on their regular season success, and losing to Final Four bound Duke is hardly an embarrassment. Unless there are unexpected draft declarations, Utah will only lose Delon Wright and Dallin Bachynski . . . except that Wright was perhaps the best, most important player in the conference. Still, Taylor, Loveridge and Poeltl are a core three that any team would love to have, and there are lots of intriguing role players. Utah should be just fine next year.
ragnarok: Made the Sweet 16, an important (if arbitrary) benchmark that let them leap the Ducks.
3. Oregon Ducks
Last week: 2
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 6): How do we measure the departure of Joseph Young, and how to we measure the ability of Dana Altman to cobble together a team from spare transfers? I'm splitting the difference and sticking Oregon in the middle, in part because I'm expecting the rest of the conference to improve while Oregon stays static or perhaps gets slightly worse.
ragnarok: Also lost to Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament, though with the Badgers now in their first title game since 1941, there's no shame there.
Last week: 4
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 3): Kevon Looney is gone, so that will temper expectations a bit. But UCLA has some excellent recruits and could add a few more, so I'm putting them at the 3 spot for next year. How quickly Alford can develop this year's freshmen class will likely decide what UCLA's ceiling is. But there should be a bit more roster stability, which should help.
ragnarok: Yes, the Bruins made the Sweet 16, though they got some help with an ill-advised goaltend and getting to face 14-seeded UAB in the second round. Easily the worst team in the Sweet 16.
Last week: 5
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 8): Kudos to Stanford for winning the NIT. But as of right now, Stanford looks to be in rebuilding mode. Gone are Randle, Brown, and Nastic. Role players Roscoe Allen and Marcus Allen will be the only contributing upper-classmen on the roster. Stanford will have something like six 4-star recruits that will be freshmen or sophomores, but those soon-to-be sophomores didn't have huge contributions as freshmen. Lots of question marks here.
ragnarok: Well, if you're gonna get relegated to the NIT, might as well win the damn thing. Stanford's seniors finishing their career with multiple NIT titles is not where Johnny Dawkins wants this program, however.
Last week: 6
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 10): This is a ranking that could obviously fluctuate based upon who ASU hires to replace Herb Sendek. But for now I'm going to assume that the new hire will struggle in year 1 with a mediocre roster that probably won't have a ton of immediate impact recruits since the new coach will come in late in the recruiting cycle. Losing Shaq McKissic along with solid secondary shooters Bo Barnes and Jonathan Gilling won't help, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a few transfers as well.
ragnarok: Teams without head coaches generally perform poorly.
Last week: 8
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 5): The Beavers should be better, because barring unexpected departures, everybody will be back. Add in a few 4 star recruits, and the team should be a bit deeper. The question is if Tinkle can build a half-decent offense to go along with an already superb defense. If Gary Payton can add a bit more offense to his repertoire, he could challenge for CPOY.
Last week: 7
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 4): If Cal actually gets committments from three top-10 prospects to go along with the established core of Wallace, Mathews, and Bird . . . well, we could be talking about pre-season Pac-12 favorites. If Cal swung and missed on all three and Wallace declares for the draft, things would look grim. I'm not expecting either extreme scenario, so slotting Cal at 4 for next year seems fair at the moment. Expect wild swings (both in hypothetical ranking, and in your emotional state. WOO RECRUITING!)
ragnarok: The Bears' loss to Wisconsin back in December never looked bad, but it looks even less bad now.
Last week: 9
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 9): I'm willing to believe that losing Askia Booker could be an addition-by-subtraction thing because he was so inefficient . . . but that would mean that Colorado has to have other efficient players ready to take his minutes and shots, and I'm not sure Tad Boyle has those players. The incoming recruiting class isn't special, so unless Josh Scott stays healthy and takes a leap, expect more of the same from Colorado.
Last week: 10
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 11): Gone are three players from a 7/8 player main rotation. Wazzu was already awful defensively, and now they will be losing good offensive players like Davonte Lacy and shooter Dexter Kernich-Drew. I'm expecting the Cougars to take a step back on offense without really improving much elsewhere. Will be interesting to see if Ernie can get anybody to come out to Pullman.
11T. USC Trojans
Last week: 12
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 12): USC is bringing in a solid class, and they have a couple of intriguing parts. But in the same way that Arizona gets the benefit of the doubt despite personnel losses, USC gets the opposite despite personnel additions.
11T. Washington Huskies
Last week: 11
Nick Kranz: (Predicted for next year: 7): Romar is bringing in a borderline top 10 class . . . which he needs desperately, because UW currently has exactly two decent contributing rotation players coming back, and one of them (Nigel Williams-Goss) might declare for the draft. Romar has had success with freshmen studs before, so I think the Huskies will take a step forward, but a lack of contributing veterans and iffy coaching probably places a ceiling on what UW can accomplish.
ragnarok: Nobody gets less from more than Lorenzo Romar.
Here's the raw data from our voters:
That data gets averaged out to give the consensus rankings listed earlier. We can glean some more information off the data than just those ranks, however. For example, we can take a look at how each team ranked precisely, as well as how varied the evaluations for the teams were.
Figure 1. The precise rankings for the final week of the season. The error bars represent the standard deviation to show how varied the votes were for each team.
It can also be interesting (if you're boring) to track how the teams have progressed over the course of the season. To see which teams had hot streaks and which teams had monumental derpfests.
Figure 2. The precise rankings of the teams over the season.
Not much interesting going on here. We do see that ASU, OSU, and Cal were somewhat close, but beyond that, the precise rankings don't tell us that much more than the standard, rounded-off rankings. Where can we find those rounded rankings? Figure 3!
Figure 3. The rounded-off rankings of the Pac-12 teams this year.
Not only was this week a bit boring (because our voters' opinions were unmoved by the postseason play), but following this graph, things have been pretty steady for the past few weeks. I imagine the teams were mostly settled rather than still having inconsistent play. This kind of movement has been quantified and termed the Madness.
|Change on week|
Sure enough, not only was the last week of the season the least Mad of the year, but the two weeks that preceded it were pretty tame compared to the rest of the season.
As was the case in our football rankings, things were mostly boring at the top of the conference, with one team being #1 for the majority of the season and being the least Mad. The Maddest team of the year was UC Los Angeles, who had a bit of yo-yoing before settling in at #4.
With the season over, we can also take a look at how much the teams' final placements compared to their rankings at the end of nonconference play.
There are a trio of teams who ultimately matched initial expectations; two were at the top (Arizona and Utah) while there's one random team (Colorado). Despite a disappointing start to our conference schedule, the poor Golden Bears managed to rebound somewhat, only ending up two spots lower. The worst drop-off definitely belongs to those Dawgs up north we had high expectations for them, but they sank like an anchor and ended up tied for last in the conference.