The national polls dropped today and they include just one Pac-12 team, California. The Golden Bears come in at 24 and 23 in the AP and Coaches polls, respectively, while Arizona, Washington, and Stanford received votes in both. View the polls here.
Now that you’ve seen the national rankings once again sparse of Pac-12 teams (or West coast teams for that matter as only Gonzaga, UNLV and Cal make the top-25 from over here) get used to it for another year.
The conference has taken its early season opportunity to shake some of its negative stigmas and, instead, promptly wet the bed. There’s no need to go into the glaring defeats and non-existent quality victories, that’s been discussed ad nauseum. At this juncture, the Pac-12 has so few redeeming games on its collective schedule that this season will once again be devoid of top-25 teams in the conference.
The remaining games of note in the Pac-12’s out of conference schedule:
- Washington vs Marquette (in MSG) (12/6)
- Arizona @ Florida (12/7)
- Washington @ Duke (in MSG) (12/10)
- Arizona vs Gonzaga (in Seattle) (12/17)
- Stanford vs Butler (12/22)
- Cal @ UNLV (12/23)
These are the impact games, ones that will draw a worthwhile national audience, that should boost the conferences wavering RPI and, perhaps more importantly, its appearance. At first glance, however, the only favorite would appear to be Stanford over the visiting Butler Bulldogs. After that, I see a lot of underdogs in Pac-12 clothing.
So with little fanfare already in the polls and few opportunities to squeeze back in, the conference will likely have little to no top-25 representation as mediocrity beats on bad in conference play.
Alas, it may be safe to assume that it will be another bad year for Pac-12 basketball. But let’s look bigger and abstract picture, briefly. Keep an eye on the football coaching carousel. With all of the recent firings in the Pac-12 you’ll begin to notice bigger spending as more TV money is soon to come (thank you Larry Scott). The press to improve football should trickle to basketball operations and demonstrate a need for everyone to catch up.
Then, as programs (football and basketball and every other sport) get increased air time, the obstacle that is having a school in Pullman or Corvalis becomes a progressively smaller obstacle. Ultimately, the more attention one can garner, the better suited you are for success. At least that’s the way it would seem to be in modern college athletics.
Things may not look so good but the aforementioned schedule is a good one. There’s some intriguing match-ups and good basketball to be played. If for nothing else, watch these games because, as a fan of the Pac, you know there’s still talent out here and you’re not going to read too far into upset losses and blowouts. Especially in November.
Ultimately, up or down, good or bad, seasons are defined in March. Let’s withhold overwhelming judgement and see where this 2011-12 campaign takes us.