What happened to the Pac 12?
The Pac 12 had a huge year last year, with 3 teams reaching the sweet 16, and Oregon even making it to the final 4. This year, this has taken a turn for the worst for the conference of champions in which only one team has stood out this season. As of February 1st, there are only two Pac 12 teams in the Top 25, and only one (Arizona) looks like they have a legitimate shot this season. These are my reasons why the Pac 12 has arguably been the worst power 5 conference this season.
No Star Power
Last year, the Pac 12 featured 5 players in the ESPN top 100, including the #1 pick Markelle Fultz and the #2 pick Lonzo Ball. This year, the Pac 12 only had three, and Deandre Ayton of the Arizona Wildcats is the only one who has proven himself. No other players in the conference have emerged as candidates for any of the major awards this season, and according to NBADraft.net, only one player, once again Ayton, is projected to be drafted in the top 20. In order for the Pac 12 to become a contender in March, more players need to step up and claim the spotlight for their teams.
California Teams Not Making Noise
UCLA and USC were primed to take over college basketball this season, both heading into the season ranked in the Top 15 by the AP Poll. However, drama in China for UCLA and early struggles for the Trojans saw them fall out of the rankings quickly.
For USC, they started off the season sluggish, not playing with effort and looking lost on the court. They saw themselves enter conference play at 11-4, an impressive record but underwhelming for their standards. USC has turned it around however, winning their last 6 games, and are only 1 game back of the conference lead at the moment.
For UCLA, they faced the pre season troubles of the shoplifting incident in China, causing them to lose 3 talented players for the season. From there, it has been a nightmare for the Bruins. Top recruits Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes have not been performing at a high level, and UCLA has not been able to take advantage of great opportunities throughout the season. They are currently a disappointing 6-4 in conference play, and don’t look like a threat in this year’s Pac 12 tournament.
As for the final California team, University of California, nothing was expected from them, and they have been embarrassing. They are currently on an 8 game losing streak, are 1-8 in conference play, and 8 games under .500 this season. This is looking like a forgotten season for the Bears as they focus on the next season.
No Luck For Road Teams This Season
For pretty much every team except for Arizona this season, a game on the road will most likely be a loss. Colorado and Washington State are a combined 1-14 on the road this season, and only three teams, Arizona, USC, and Washington, have winning records on the road. Many teams have seen their resumes taking a hit from these road game, like Arizona State, who are 10-2 at home, but just 3-3 away, and UCLA, who are 11-2 at home, but a pathetic 1-4 on the road. Until these teams can prove that they can handle being away from home, none of these teams will have a shot in the Pac 12 championship, and March Madness if they make it.