As the stretch run approaches, the Pac-12 appears well positioned to collect a reasonable number of bids to the NCAA Tournament.
At least by its standards.
Based on the current NET rankings, the primary tool used to select the at-large field, three teams are on secure ground and two more are on the bubble.
Unfortunately, there are no relevant comparisons from last year, because there was no tournament.
But the Hotline unearthed the NET rankings from Selection Sunday in 2019 to provide a framework with which to assess the Pac-12’s prospects this March.
The lowest-seeded at-large teams in 2019 were easy to identify, thanks to their participation in the First Four.
No. 47 Belmont
No. 56 Temple
No. 63 Arizona State
No. 73 St. John’s
The average NET ranking for the quartet is 60, so we’ll use that as the baseline:
Any Pac-12 team with a NET ranking of 60 or better on Selection Sunday seemingly will stand a reasonable chance of making the at-large field.
Currently, there are five in the top 60.
(Note: We have not included Arizona, which is No. 32 but ineligible for the NCAAs.)
No. 16 Colorado
No. 24 USC
No. 34 UCLA
No. 46 Oregon
No. 59 Stanford
Five bids (one automatic and four at-large) would constitute a significant improvement for the conference, which sent just three teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2018 and 2019.
But if one of the five falters, there is no backup plan.
The conference doesn’t have another team in the top 100, suggesting there’s little chance any team outside the quintet can qualify for the at-large field.
To receive a sixth bid, the Pac-12 likely will need an upset winner in Las Vegas.
1. UCLA (12-3/8-1)
Last week: 1
Results: Won at Cal 61-57, lost at Stanford 73-72 (OT)
Next up: vs. Oregon (Thursday)
Comment: The stumble was fairly easy to see coming: UCLA played a taxing game Thursday in Berkeley, Stanford had a week off (because of the USC postponement), and the Bruins were due for a narrow loss after so many close wins.
2. Colorado (12-4/6-3)
Last week: 2
Results: Lost at Washington 84-80, beat Washington State 70-59
Next up: vs. Washington State (Wednesday)
Comment: Based on the disparate performances, it appears that CU’s defense was booked on a direct flight from Boulder to Pullman and never made it to Seattle.
3. Arizona (11-3/5-3)
Last week: 5
Results: Won at Arizona State 84-82
Next up: vs. Arizona State (Monday)
Comment: Full credit to the Wildcats for staying locked in without the NCAA carrot. But it’s not an ideal situation for the conference, which would benefit from having an ineligible team lose every time out.
4. Oregon (9-3/4-2)
Last week: 3
Results: Lost to Oregon State 75-64
Next up: at UCLA (Thursday)
Comment: No Chris Duarte, no LJ Figueroa, no Will Richardson (still) and two weeks of rust proved too much, even against an opponent that hadn’t won a road game this season (and had only played one).
5. Stanford (9-5/5-3)
Last week: 7
Results: DNP vs. USC, beat UCLA 73-72 (OT)
Next up: at Arizona (Thursday)
Comment: The season-opening victory over Alabama on a neutral court has become a first-class result for Stanford and the Pac-12’s marquee win: The Crimson Tide is No. 9 in the NET and alone atop the SEC.
6. USC (12-3/6-2)
Last week: 4
Results: Lost to Oregon State 58-56, DNP vs. Stanford, won at Cal 76-68
Next up: vs. Oregon State (Thursday)
Comment: The DNP was the result of a false-positive antigen test in the USC program and the second time the Trojans and Cardinal have been derailed. No makeup date has been announced.
7. Oregon State (8-5/4-3)
Last week: 10
Results: Beat USC 58-56, won at Oregon 75-64
Next up: at USC (Thursday)
Comment: All the Beavers needed to kick-start their season was a 34-point home loss to an unranked opponent. Since the face plant against Arizona, they’re 3-0.
8. Utah (6-7/3-6)
Last week: 9
Results: Won at Washington State 71-56, lost at Washington 83-79
Next up: at Colorado (Saturday)
Comment: The Hot- line hasn’t checked the Pac-12 archives, but we feel confident asserting that Utah is the first team to play eight conference road games in a 10-game stretch.
9. Arizona State (4-7/1-4)
Last week: 6
Results: Lost to Arizona 84-82
Next up: at Arizona (Monday)
Comment: If the Wildcats and Sun Devils were willing to play every five days for the rest of the season, we’d support the change. It’s guaranteed to be riveting theater.
10. Washington State (9-6/2-6)
Last week: 8
Results: Lost to Utah 71-56 and Colorado 70-59
Next up: at Colorado (Wednesday)
Comment: Far more ominous than the five-game downturn is WSU’s lack of competitiveness: Four of the losses have been by double digits.
11. Washington (3-11/2-7)
Last week: 12
Results: Beat Colorado 84-80 and Utah 83-79
Next up: vs. Washington State (Sunday)
Comment: Look who’s out of the cellar. Not only that, but with WSU coming to town, the Huskies are primed to extend their winning streak to three games.
12. Cal (7-10/2-8)
Last week: 11
Results: Lost to UCLA 61-57 and to USC 76-68
Next up: at Arizona State (Thursday)
Comment: Combine the trip to Arizona with a back-to-back against Stanford, and the Bears could be weeks away from their third conference win.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.