Did the 2009-10 Pac-10 basketball season get hammered by sports analysts or what?
It almost appears the negative Nancies, the gloom and doom prognosticators, would have us believe that Pac-10 teams belong in a convalescent center, not on a basketball court.
One analyst’s article about the dismal state of Pac-10 basketball correctly points out that only two Pac-10 players were taken in the 2010 NBA draft, Quincy Pondexer and Landry Fields.
What she failed to mention is that in the last four years the Pac-10 has put 29 players into the NBA, more than any other conference.
Another analyst joined the "kick them while they're down" bandwagon by stating that the Pac-10 went from placing six teams into the NCAA Tournament three straight years to being lucky to receive two bids last season.
Waving the white flag, he went on to say that the die had been cast and the destiny of Pac-10 basketball was clear: It will remain an inferior conference.
Bunk! When you lose a host of great players over a span of time, it can result in a down year or two. Take a look at the two teams that represented the Pac-10 in the NCAA Tournament last season. It took a Final Four team in Duke to send California home in the second round and another Final Four team in West Virginia to defeat Washington in the Sweet 16.
If the litmus test for excellence is how many teams a conference puts into the NCAA Tournament, then 2011 could be the season to silence the naysayers.
This is a slideshow of five Pac-10 teams whom I think have 2011 NCAA Tournament potential. The team I had a difficult time omitting was USC. The photo is of the player I deem the most important to his team.
We will begin with fifth place and slide up to first. The season is under way, but in my opinion this is the best time to evaluate, after they have played a few games.