Halfway to Vegas, more than half of #Pac12Hoops eyeing title and NCAAs

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

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#PAC12HOOPS STARTING FIVE

1 - Via the NCAA Statistics conference trends rankings, the Pac-12 is first nationally in scoring average (78.0 ppg), rebound average (38.9 rpg) and block average (4.7 bpg) through Feb. 1 games.

10 - Ten Pac-12 teams have an NCAA Strength of Schedule in the top 50, the most in the nation, with an 11th team (USC) just outside at 51.

10.2Every game is a battle in the Pac-12. Through 54 league games as of Feb. 1:
>> Average scoring margin is 10.2 ppg.
>> 28 have been decided by single digits.
>> 11 have been decided by one possession (3 pts or less).
>> Five have gone to overtime, combining for nine total OT periods.
>> Five have been decided by a team’s final possession (Bonam - UTAH @ COLO, Alford - UCLA vs ARIZ, R. Allen - STAN vs ASU, Brown - CAL vs ARIZ, Andrews - WASH @ UCLA).

11 - The Pac-12’s 11 teams in the NCAA RPI Top 75 as of Feb. 2 are the most in the nation. Four Pac-12 teams are currently in the top 25 and seven are in the top 50, both tied for the second-most nationally.

35 - In the 37 seasons since expanding from the Pac-8 and to an 18-game schedule, the league’s midway leader has gone on to earn at least a share of the regular-season crown 35 times (1994, 2013).

PAC-12 QUICK HITS

BRACKETOLOGY: The Pac-12 is currently projected to earn a league record 7-to-8 NCAA Tournament bids according to various major sports news bracketology posts:

ESPN.com - 8 (+1 Next Four Out)
USA Today - 8 (+1 First Four Out)
NBCSports.com - 8 (+1 Next Four Out)
FOXSports.com - 8 (+1 First Four Out)
SI.com - 8
CBSSports.com - 7 (+1 First Four Out)
Sporting News - 7 (+2 on bubble)

HOME SWEET HOME: OREGON now owns the Pac-12’s longest and nation’s ninth-best home court win streak at 20 straight games after the Ducks ended ARIZONA’s national-best 49-game streak on Jan. 28. CALIFORNIA (14) and USC (14) are also enjoying lengthy home streaks, both tied for the 20th longest in the nation.

ROAD TO VEGAS: Only two teams have completed a road sweep in 24 attempts so far in league play (UTAH at WSU/WASH, ORE at ARIZ/ASU). Home-road results will be key in the second-half of league play. Of the top six teams at the midway point, only COLORADO has fewer home dates (4) than road games (5) remaining.

DOUBLE OSCARS FOR PAC-12: After only three recipients in the award’s first six years of existence, Pac-12 players earned back-to-back selections for the USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week award with UTAH’s Jakob Poeltl on Jan. 26 and OREGON’s Dillon Brooks on Feb. 2. Brooks was also named national player of the week by NCAA.com and the Naismith Trophy.

Dillon Brooks, OREGON - Feb. 2016
Jakob Poeltl, UTAH - Jan. 2016
Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA - Dec. 2012
Faisal Aden, WASHINGTON STATE - Jan. 2012
Jerome Randle, CALIFORNIA - Feb. 2010

TOP 100 CHARTS: Through Feb. 1, the Pac-12 has 81 wins against NCAA RPI Top 100 teams, led by ARIZONA (8-5), CALIFORNIA (7-7), OREGON (12-3), UCLA (7-8), USC (8-5), UTAH (11-5).

The Pac-12 has 34 total wins versus the RPI Top 50, paced by CALIFORNIA (4-5), OREGON (6-1), USC (4-4) and UTAH (6-4).

WASHINGTON (3-3) boasts three of the Pac-12’s 14 RPI Top 25 wins, tied for the fifth-most in the nation.

FIRST TO 90 WINS?: There have been 17 instances of a Pac-12 team reaching the 90-point plateau through the 54 total league games of Feb. 1, five more than the 12 from the entire 2014-15 Pac-12 season.

TOPPLING THE TOP 25: Pac-12 teams posted a combined seven wins against Top 25 teams in non-conference play, tied for the third-most in the nation behind the ACC and SEC. Five of those upsets came in a span of 20 days (11/30-12/19). In total, Pac-12 teams have combined for 17 Top 25 wins, including road sweeps of ARIZONA, UCLA and UTAH in the opening two weeks of league play.

ROAD TO RIO PAVED BY PAC-12: USA Basketball released its list of the 30 finalists for its 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s National Team roster on Jan. 18 and the Pac-12 Conference had the most former players listed with six:

DeMar DeRozan, USC
James Harden, ARIZONA STATE
Andre Iguodala, ARIZONA
Kevin Love, UCLA
Klay Thompson, WASHINGTON STATE
Russell Westbrook, UCLA

The six were among 62 former Pac-12 players listed on NBA rosters on opening day of the 2015-16 season, the second-most from a single conference behind the ACC’s 74.

PAC-12 PAVES WAY TO ALL-STAR GAME: Of the 24 NBA players named to the 2016 All-Star Game in Toronto, the Pac-12 led all conferences with five former standouts chosen:

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto (USC)
Isaiah Thomas, Boston (WASH)
James Harden, Houston (ASU)
Klay Thompson, Golden State (WSU)
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (UCLA)

#PAC12HOOPS LINEUP

1 - After losing three key pieces to his 2015 NIT championship team, STANFORD Coach Johnny Dawkins discusses in this week's Pac-12 All-Access how it has taken a total team effort from the Cardinal to navigate the nation's toughest schedule.

2 - One of three former All-Americans and six NBA Draft picks in the league's ranks, Dawkins is just one of the Pac-12's coaches who could also play a little writes The Register-Guard's Steve Mims.

3 - The league's second half begins with 10 games this week and Pac-12 Network analyst Lamar Hurd breaks down a pair of midweek clashes in his Hurd Mentality - No. 23 ARIZONA at WASHINGTON and COLORADO at No. 16 OREGON.

4 - OREGON's sweep of the desert schools captured a lot of national attention as USA Today, NCAA.com and ESPN's Andy Katz all took a closer look at the Ducks' and Coach Dana Altman's success.

5 - The Pac-12's mountain schools - COLORADO and UTAH - are among four teams tied for second place midway through league play. The Salt Lake Tribune's Kurt Kragthorpe points out that the crowded Pac-12 standings are a good thing, while the Denver Post's Nick Kosmider states that the Pac-12 has become a powerful league

6 - As ARIZONA embarks on a critical road trip through Washington this week, it could regain the services of starting freshman guard Allonzo Trier writes Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star.  As CALIFORNIA awaits the return of starter Tyrone Wallace, CalBears.com tells the story of how the senior is fulfilling a promise he made to his late grandfather.

7 - The Naismith Hall of Fame positional player of the year finalists are being announced daily this week, and OREGON STATE's Gary Payton II and USC's Julian Jacobs are among the top 10 backcourt players in the nation.

8 - USC is also one of the teams logjammed in second place despite being picked 10th in the preseason media poll. USC Athletics examines how Jacobs has helped the Trojans take flight in his junior season. 

9 - Several Pac-12 big men are in line to be named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year finalists later this week. It is only fitting that the award's namesake is the frontrunner in the voting for the Pac-12 All-Century Centers.

10 - ARIZONA STATE earned its second league win last week with a little assistance from the vaunted Curtain of Distraction and the greatest Olympian of all-time, Michael Phelps.

 

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