Pac-10 Predictions: Conference Play

Tom PhillipsCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2010

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20:  Head coach Mike Montgomery of the California Golden Bears looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic on November 20, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Pac-10 is the worst major conference in college basketball.

There is really no other way to put it. As of the the current AP and ESPN polls (December 28), no Pac-10 school is ranked. Only two, USC and Cal, had any votes at all in the poll.

The former superpowers of the Pac-10, UCLA and Arizona, are victims of one-and-dones and a coaching debacle. UCLA the first and Arizona both.

Washington State lost their coach, ASU lost its two best players, and USC had the Tim Floyd debacle.

That is a lot for any conference to deal with over a couple of years. But for one offseason, it turned out to be too much for a conference that had six teams make the NCAA tournament last year.

This year they might be lucky enough to get two teams. Granted, they should get two in, but talk of three or four seems preposterous at this point in the season.

Looking at most of the teams, no one has had a tough out-of-conference schedule. The sad thing is, almost every team lost to an opponent from a lower conference. Portland, Cal State, Fullerton, and Sacramento State are just some to get wins over Pac-10 teams.

When was the last time you heard of UCLA losing to Long Beach State or Oregon losing to Montana?

This season could be an unprecedented low for the Pac-10.

I think we will see the conference beat up on itself (kind of like they do in football), costing themselves at least one or two tournament spots in the process.

So now that Pac-10 play has started, let's take a look at how the conference will finish before the Pac-10 tournament in March.

10. Stanford

Are they the worst team in the Pac-10? No, but someone has to finish last. Coach Johnny Dawkins has a long way to go with this program.

9. Oregon State

8. Arizona State


Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Bruins are suffering from players leaving early; the team lacks the talent and toughness they have had in past years.

6. Washington State

5. Arizona

The Cats can look good or look awful. There is no in between. With no legitimate big man presence, Nic Wise has a big load to carry.

4. Oregon

3. Washington

2. USC

USC will be the most disciplined team in the conference. Kevin O'Neill even has his assistant coaches afraid to speak up on the bench. Trojans will stifle teams with their defense in low scoring games all season.

1. Cal

Mike Montgomery has the most talented team in the Pac-10, and he has himself to thank. He's helped turn around the Bears from mediocre to top dog. Seniors Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher are the best guard tandem in the conference averaging 36 points a game.