A month ago, I took a look at the Pac-12 standings, and foolishly tried to make sense of the madness. I took a stab at making some bold predictions, and whiffed on most of them.
No, the top three aren't as good as I thought they were. Yes, ASU has proven that they have sticking power. When did Cal decide they were any good? OH MY GOD WASHINGTON IS TERRIBLE.
As a result, no sweeping predictions today. There's just too much parity for me to go chasing curveballs in the dirt. Instead, I'm taking a broader approach, discussing narrative and trends. You know, what I'm good at.
Here are the current standings, along with each teams' closing schedule:
- Oregon - 10-3 - vs Cal, vs Stanford, vs OSU, @CU, @Utah
- UCLA - 9-4 - @USC, vs ASU, vs UofA, @WSU, @UW
- Arizona - 9-4 - vs UW, vs WSU, @USC, @UCLA, vs ASU
- ASU - 8-5 - vs WSU, vs UW, @UCLA, @USC, @UofA
- Cal - 8-5 - @Oregon, @OSU, vs Utah, vs CU, vs Stanford
- Colorado - 7-6 - vs Utah, @Stanford, @Cal, vs Oregon, vs OSU
- USC - 7-6 - vs UCLA, vs UofA, vs ASU, @UW, @WSU
- Washington - 6-7 - @UofA, @ASU, vs WSU, vs USC, vs UCLA
- Stanford - 6-7 - @OSU, @Oregon, vs CU, vs Utah, @Cal
- Oregon St - 3-10 - vs Stanford, vs Cal, @Oregon, @Utah, @CU
- Utah - 3-10 - @CU, @Cal, @Stanford, vs OSU, vs Oregon
- Washington St - 2-11 - @ASU, @UofA, @UW, vs UCLA, vs USC
|With Artis still sidelined, Oregon desperately clings to their lead.|
|A Crabbe-fueled run has Cal riding high. Pac-12 MVP honors await if they can finish.|
Our Buffs continue to flirt with greatness. Only four single-possession losses to Arizona, UCLA, Utah, and ASU separate CU from a sterling 11-2 mark. If only... Wistfulness aside, the team is about where I expected them to be entering this final stretch. 4-1 (possible) or 3-2 (likely) over the final five would be a fitting finish to a strong, not great, season.
|CU has been hit-or-miss in close games this year. Evan Gordon knows. From: ESPN|
You can make a compelling Tournament argument for each of the top-6 squads. As of this morning, Lunardi even has all six in the bracket. What a change from last season, when the Pac-12 could only vaguely muster one or two teams worth giving a damn about.
I'm still not convinced, however, that the Pac-12 will get six bids - I just don't think it's that strong of a league. I expect one, if not two, of the top-six will get their bubble burst over the next three weeks. Cal seems to be in the most trouble; a 3-2 finish won't do it for them, they'll need a statement win over either Oregon or CU to make the Dance. Same with ASU, I doubt a 3-2 finish will be enough. They'll need a road win over either UCLA or 'Zona to feel safe.
|Can Lurch and the Sun Devils *ahem* elbow their way into the Tournament?|
Regardless, after last season's Selection Sunday horror show, where even regular season champion Washington was snubbed, it's nice to be in a situation where more than just the top few teams are carrying Tournament hopes.
From here on out, the best strategy is to just to win. Bubble watching and schedule plotting rarely lead to the Dance, so do like Al Davis and just win, baby! I'll tell you right now, none of the six bubble squads will be denied if they go 5-0 over the stretch run.
With carrots galore out there to keep teams interested, these final three weeks should be crazy.
I can't wait.