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Posted at 09:27 AM ET, 01/27/2012

NCAA tournament 2012: Could the Pac-12 get only one bid?


Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar, left, and Stanford Coach Johnny Dawkins may be on the outside looking in come March. (Elaine Thompson - AP)
Washington, Colorado, UCLA and Arizona all won Pacific-12 games Thursday. Just another night in the rough-and-tumble Pac-12 Conference, right?

Yawn.

The Pac-12 is ranked ninth in the RPI among all conferences, rightfully behind the Missouri Valley, Atlantic 10 and Mountain West. None of the six power conferences has been ranked that low this century.

If anyone thought Arizona’s run to the Elite Eight last season was going to provide a much-needed boost to the league, it didn’t quite turn out that way. Injuries and suspensions — including Reeves Nelson being booted by UCLA — no doubt impacted the overall strength of the league this season.

But there is no sugar-coating it: The Pac-12 has sunk to its lowest depths this century.

The Pac-12 has its share of excellent basketball coaches — Ben Howland, Mike Montgomery and Sean Miller among them — but the league should be a one-bid conference this season.

The Ratings Percentage Index has its flaws and should not be used alone to gauge a team’s strength. That said, just one Pac-12 team — California at No. 35 — ranks in the top 50 of the RPI. In comparison, the nation’s strongest league, the Big Ten, has eight teams in the top 50.

And California has lost to two of the weaker Pac-12 teams in Washington State and Oregon State.

But perhaps the most damning is this: Pac-12 teams have a combined 3-36 record this season against RPI top 50 teams. And two of those victories are claimed by Washington State and Oregon State over league-front-runner California.

That leaves just one nonconference victory over an RPI top 50 team — Stanford beat Colorado State (No. 27 in the RPI) way back on Nov. 15 — for the entire league.

Again, this should be a one-bid league unless California loses late in the Pac-12 tournament.

More on Washington Post Sports

Maryland coverage at Terrapins Insider

Virginia coverage at Cavaliers Journal

Virginia Tech coverage at Hokies Journal

By  |  09:27 AM ET, 01/27/2012

Tags:  Pac-12, Pacific-12, Pac-12 basketball, California, Cal basketball, Sean Miller, Mike Montgomery, Ben Howland, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington, Lorenzo Romar

 
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