Tough getting tougher as #Pac12Hoops league race tightens

Chris Hook/Arizona Athletics

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#PAC12HOOPS LINEUP

1 - Pac-12 All-Access goes behind the scenes at WASHINGTON where Coach Lorenzo Romar and senior Andrew Andrews have guided the Huskies and their four freshmen starters to the top of the Pac-12.

2 - A part of the highest-scoring rookie class in the country, WASHINGTON's Dejounte Murray is the leading freshman scorer in the Pac-12 and was recently the subject of an ESPN Insider Freshman Tracker feature.

3 - With its first national ranking in eight seasons and its best start in 24 years, NCAA.com offers 23 things you should know about USC.

4 - ARIZONA won its two home games this past weekend by a combined 56 points to extend its McKale Center win streak to a national best 49 straight games. However, did you know the Wildcats have won 23 consecutive home games by double digits? ArizonaWildcats.com dives deeper into McKale Magic.

5 - What is the deepest conference in college basketball? CBS Sports College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein says it's the Pac-12 (5:21 mark), and he also discusses USC's return to prominence with Coach Andy Enfield on his College Hoops Today podcast (6:25 mark).

6 - The prognosticators continue to predict a record haul of NCAA Tournament bids for the Pac-12 with ESPN.com Bracketologist Joe Lunardi including a national-best eight schools and CBSSports.com Bracket expert Jerry Palm picking seven with another two in his First Four Out.

7 - Beat writers from around the league offer context to the Pac-12 season so far: Pac-12's wild start keeping teams on edge (sltrib.com); Pac-12 depth means each game's a battle (tucson.com); Wild Pac-12 basketball season worth our attention (azcentral.com); Could eight Pac-12 teams make the NCAA tournament? (sfgate.com).

8 - The John R. Wooden Award committee narrowed its national college basketball Player of the Year list down to the Midseason Top 25 and three Pac-12 stars made the cut - ARIZONA senior forward Ryan Anderson, OREGON STATE senior guard Gary Payton II and UTAH sophomore forward Jakob Poeltl. Anderson was one of five players not on the Preseason Top 50 to make the Midseason list.

9 - USA Basketball named 30 finalists for its 2016 Rio Olympics U.S. Men's National Team, and the Pac-12 is the most represented collegiate conference with six former standouts on the list.

10 - Another prestigious roster was announced this week - the McDonald's All-American Game rosters, which included three NLI signees to Pac-12 schools.

11 - The nation observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday and Pac-12 coaches and student-athletes took time to reflect on the impact of the civil rights pioneer.

12 - The Pac-12 All-Century forwards have been revealed and include seven former league Players of the Year.

#PAC12HOOPS STARTING FIVE

2 - The Pac-12’s ranking in the CBSSports.com Conference RPI compiled by Jerry Palm, behind only the Big 12. The last time the Pac-12 ranked second in the official NCAA Conference RPI was during the 2004-05 campaign.

3 - Number of games separating first and last place in the Pac-12 standings as of Jan. 18, tied with the Big West and MAC for the closest conference race in the nation outside the Ivy League (only 1 game played).

8 - The Pac-12’s eight teams in the NCAA RPI Top 50 and 11 teams in the RPI Top 75 as of Jan. 19 are tied for the most in the nation with the ACC.

9.0 - The average scoring margin through the Pac-12’s 30 league games as of Jan. 18:
>> 17 games have been decided by single digits, including all four contests on Saturday, Jan. 9.
>> Eight have been decided by one possession (3 pts or less).
>> Four have gone to overtime (8 total OTs), six combined among other Power 5 leagues.
>> Two have had game-winning shots on a team’s final possession (Lorenzo Bonam - UTAH, Bryce Alford - UCLA).

11 - Along with 11 teams in the NCAA RPI Top 75, the Pac-12 also boasts 11 teams with an NCAA Strength of Schedule in the top 75 in the nation, led by ARIZONA STATE (11), OREGON (4) and STANFORD (5).

PAC-12 QUICK HITS

TOP 100 CHARTS: Through Jan. 18, the Pac-12 has 57 wins against NCAA RPI Top 100 teams, led by ARIZONA (5-3), CALIFORNIA (5-5), COLORADO (6-4), OREGON (7-3), USC (6-3) and UTAH (8-5). The Pac-12 has 32 total wins versus the RPI Top 50, paced by OREGON (6-2), CALIFORNIA (4-4), USC (4-2) and UTAH (4-4).

CONFERENCE OF REBOUNDS: Through games of Jan. 18, Pac-12 programs have a combined average rebound total of 39.6, the highest of any conference.

HOME SWEET HOME: ARIZONA owns NCAA Division I’s longest active home win streak at 49 consecutive games. OREGON has won 18 in a row at home, the 11th longest streak in the nation, while USC and CALIFORNIA have both won a dozen straight at home.

FIRST TO 90 WINS?: There have been 11 instances of a Pac-12 team reaching the 90-point plateau through the 30 total league games of Jan. 18. During the entire 2014-15 Pac-12 season, teams reached the 90-point mark a total of 12 times. The Pac-12 is second nationally in scoring at 78.1 ppg.

SIGN OF THINGS TO COME?: In four of the past nine seasons, the Pac-12 has sent six teams into the NCAA Tournament. In each of those four instances, the league won more than 75 percent of its non-conference games. In 2015-16, the Pac-12 posted a .780 non-league win percentage.

TOPPLING THE TOP 25: Pac-12 teams posted a combined seven wins against Top 25 teams in non-conference play, tied for the second-most in the nation behind the ACC. Five of those upsets came in a span of 20 days (11/30-12/19). In total, Pac-12 teams have combined for 13 Top 25 wins with road sweeps of ARIZONA, UCLA and UTAH in the opening two weeks of league play.

 

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