We did it! Or rather they did, the twelve teams of the Pac, completed their regular season. And how about those seniors? Andrews for 47, a week earlier it was Scott as the P12 POW, and then Gabe York going full Steph Curry Bryn Forbes for us.
Alas, we’ve come to the end of scheduled play and our last power rankings. If you’ve followed for all 17 of these posts, here’s what it’s tracked like:
Looks pretty nuts, doesn’t it? Three different teams held my top spot (Arizona, Oregon, USC) which gives the feeling of continuity (I think?). Consider there’s been six different #1 teams in the nation this year (a record or close to it) and three seems reasonable. To try and quantify the madness I looked at ranking variance. USC, UCLA, and Washington were the most variable in their rankings, notably based on preseason predictions and mid-season performance (both UW snd USC approached their preseason predictions by season’s end 11 and 8, respectively). Washington State’s power ranking, meanwhile, showed the least variance, fluctuating from a consistent low (12) to a high of 10 (weeks 6 and 7).
This final power rankings is identical to the Vegas bracket and not purposefully. As I walked through last week’s rankings and results, this felt about right. Would be curious your thoughts.
Saw a note that this was Oregon’s second outright Pac-12 title since World War 2. That’s a minute and they’re now set up to flirt with a number one seed. But before you get really worked up about that consider that Indiana is an outright B10 champ and everyone’s current darling; UVA and UNC exist; Kansas is likely the number 1 overall seed; and I haven’t mentioned Michigan State yet. No shame in a two.
Well I’ve been looking for this tweet for quite some time but here I’ve found it:
Utah: 2015 NCAA 4 seed RT @Utebuntu Utah plays Kansas next year and is scheduled in the Puerto Rico Tipoff tournament.
— Adam Butler (@pachoopsab) March 14, 2014
By holding off Colorado this weekend, the above March 2014 prediction might finally come true (they were a 5-seed last season).
Here’s my concern about Cal making a deep tournament run: Ty Wallace, in KenPom’s Tier A or B games (top-50 weighted games) has an offensive rating of just 88.6 and a usage of 28.8%. That’s 15% off his season mark – an already not-so-efficient 103. But his defensive presence is invaluable and that will ultimately be what dictates Cal’s ceiling.
So what’s it going to mean? Gabe York setting an Arizona single game three point record and hitting a flurry of threes to end Cal was damn exciting and one helluva senior show, but what’s it going to mean? Have he and the Wildcats found some new level? A new groove? Allonzo Trier was 4-18 for the weekend. Parker Jackson-Cartwright played just 31 minutes. Cal was their biggest win of the season (by resume standards). As we head to Vegas, can Arizona bolster that resume? Or does that even matter at a point?
Moving forward this is one tough team to finger. They are operating at a -1.5 points per 100 possession margin. Of course ASU finished fifth last year and they operated at a -3.4 pp100 margin so maybe there’s precedent for that? Well, that team lost to the 12-seed. In 2013 and 2014 Colorado also finished fifth with margins of +3.2 and -2.6 respectively. Ultimately these margins are the affect of playing approximately .500 basketball. On the season, the Buffs have put together the third highest pp100 margin (+10.5) of the Tad Boyle era.
I’m not 100% convinced of the steal-slam-NCAA tourney lock narrative, but this is a violent means to that – and a UCLA-sub-500 – end:
USC has not finished the season strong. They’ve lost 6-of-8 and their defense is reeling (as we noted last week). But how much do we love the narrative of USC beating UCLA for the third time this season and ensuring a sub-.500 record for their rivals?
This is what 47 senior night points looks like:
At this point there’s really just two things to pay attention to re: Stanford hoops: 1) Whether or not they retain Johnny, 2) Reid Travis’ med-red request.
Three times. And not that a .500 win percentage is a barometer for UCLA success but just three times since 1948 has UCLA finished below .500.
ASU broadcasts have a requisite split screen for a opponent second half previews. That’s nice when your team wins. It’s embarrassing when they’re embarrassing.
Had a conversation about the Oklahoma City Thunder with a sports friend. He began to raise concern about their having lost four of five (this was prior to their win over the Bucks). My stance was that an 82 game season is long, road trips are tough. It’s impossible, if not irrational, to judge an NBA book by it’s 5-game cliffnotes. Judging a college team, however? A college team losing more than half of their games in consecutive fashion isn’t a good look. But you didn’t need the context of the OKC Thunder (one of the NBA’s best) to understand that.
6 thoughts on “Week 17 PacHoops Pac-12 Power Rankings: The last one.”
I think these are pretty fair. I don’t know how the tournament will play out, but it clearly wouldn’t be a surprise if any of the top 4 won. It’s interesting how many national pundits just automatically pick Arizona, as if by force of habit. While the Cats have a legit shot to win it, I don’t understand why they would be considered clear favorites by so many, unless it is just on past history. It will be interesting how the home team domination will translate to a neutral venue. I don’t really buy the idea that crowd dominance is the same as a home court advantage. Certainly I expect there to be a sea of red in the crowd, and its not likely to be Stanford or SC cardinal, or Wazzu crimson.
As for your Ty Wallace analysis, I can’t really disagree. While I don’t completely subscribe to Bill Walton’s “Sam Singer is the answer to everything” theory, there is a problem with offensive efficiency against quality teams when Ty has the ball too much. Cal has been best when a combo of Wallace, Singer and Jaylen Brown have handled the ball and probed enough to set up Mathews and Bird for open threes and Rabb for putbacks. Cal’s problem in close games (as all but one of the losses has been), has been an over-dependence on Wallace alone down the stretch, getting away from what was working in the first place. My biggest hope for the Bears is that they can avoid foul trouble. They have had a problem defending without fouling all year. They can afford that with Okoroh and Rooks, but NOT with Brown and Rabb.
In any event, I can’t wait to go to Vegas, and I am kind of happy Cal will be the last team to play. Nothing worse than crashing out of the tournament before half the fans have shown up!!!
One last question, for you or some of your Buff friends: What do we make of Josh Scott? Amazing versus U of A, and shockingly bad versus Utah. If he is even average in that game, the Buffs win and the narrative of Utah being “red hot” is dialed down just a bit.
Great comment, Bruce. Thanks for chiming in. Vegas is going to be a terrific time.
Regarding Arizona, they’re not a surefire winner but consider their losses: aside from the Oregon game (played without Allonzo Trier), all road losses by a close margin. Now consider the history of attendance at the Pac-12 tournament and Arizona is playing semi-home games with a full and healthy roster, it’s hard to not pick them. Overarchingly, however, any of the top 4 could win it. Absolutely.
I get the sense – and this is maybe OK – that Cal gets its points however it can, pushing transition (because Jaylen is unstoppable in an open court). This was the case in the ASU game when Ty Wallace could take over against inferior, smaller opponents. Ultimately Cal won that game with outstanding defense and that’s how they’re going to play the rest of the year. It’s a seriously filthy defense.
Re: Josh Scott – I didn’t get a chance to see him against Utah. I would’ve thought he’d have a tougher game against Arizona considering their physical nature while Poeltl doesn’t play with the same physical aggression as – say – Kaleb Tarczewski. Were there a lot of UU doubles? Colorado did a great job against AZ getting Scott in positions deep in the post. I imagine Utah did a better job of letting him get deep post touches. Overall, Scott is a very skilled player but in a day and age when the lane can be packed, it can be really tough for a player like him who’s not outrageously athletic to create for himself in complete isolation away from the basket.
Scott was incredibly frustrated against Utah, and his lack of athleticism, combined with a little home-cooking from the refs, was a recipe for disaster.
Just to be Devil’s advocate re: the Cats, according to KenPom they had the 12th most difficult conference schedule, a fact which I have heard no one mentioning. Cal is the only top 4 team which had to play the other 3 twice. And all of Cal’s losses were single digits. The mountain trip games, lost by 8 and 9 respectively, came with Wallace out. All that said, my gut says be afraid of Arizona—-I just don’t think it’s based on what’s happened this year, but rather a historical sense of the red hordes willing them to victory at McHale North.
I will say this about the tournament: It is full of players I just love! Jakob Poeltl is one of my favorite Pac 12 players ever—so slick, smooth and smart. Also have nothing but respect for Gabe York, Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey, Brandon Taylor, Josh Scott, Andrew Andrews and GP2. It is horribly unfair if Tres Tinkle can’t go for OSU, even though it could prove very beneficial to my Bears. I think he is gonna be a pain in the butt for all of us for years!
Oh I totally hear you about AZ’s resume, etc. Their resume isn’t the prettiest thing which leads to something I’ve struggled with all season: Resume vs. Reality. Follow the hot debate about Wichita State’s bubble. Their resume is truly bad, but is anyone going to really say that a team with Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker isn’t a damn tough team?
Arizona’s resume isn’t great, but how pumped are you to look across at a bench with Allonzo Trier, Kaleb Tarczewski, Gabe York, Ryan Anderson, with 70% of a 10K arena wearing Arizona red?
Of course I also don’t really want to be playing against a team built to bully guards in a PG light tournament with the conference’s top shot blocker and like 18 guys that can hit a jumper (Oregon). I’m also not excited about playing a phenomenally coached team with a lottery pick and a red hot senior (Utah). You’ve already made the argument for Cal but what about the field? USC can’t not be frightening, Colorado finds ways to win, and never underestimate the power of GP2 and the chance to lock in an NCAA tournament bid/legacy.
The list of talent in the Pac is deep right now. Chris Boucher isn’t on the All-Conference team. Are you kidding me!? It’s not the coaches (voters) fault, it’s the players’ fault. Great performances everywhere.
Oh trust me, I am thrilled to be on the opposite side of Arizona in the bracket! I think for Cal, the matchup problem is Anderson, especially when you can play two seven footers with him. Anderson’s ability to be very physical without fouling is a real problem for Cal’s bigs, who are good defenders, but a little naive when it comes to staying out of foul trouble. To be honest, Arizona was the only team that didn’t really get throttled at Haas, so, as a season-ticket holder there, I am suitably respectful.