Trail to Vegas remains too close to call in deep #Pac12Hoops race

Carl Solder

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#PAC12HOOPS STARTING FIVE

.289 - Road win percentage in Pac-12 play through Feb. 15 games, the second-toughest conference to win on the road in college basketball behind the SEC (23-61, .274).

.830 - Combined home win percentage of all Pac-12 teams this season through Feb. 15 games, the best home win percentage by a conference in college basketball.

1 - Via the NCAA Statistics conference trends rankings, the Pac-12 is first nationally in scoring average (77.22 ppg), rebound average (38.4 rpg) and block average (4.6 bpg) through Feb. 15 games.

6 - The Pac-12’s six teams in the NCAA RPI Top 25 as of Feb. 16 are the most in the nation. Ten Pac-12 teams are in the top 75 and 11 are in the top 100, also the most nationally, and seven are in the top 50, matching the second-most in the nation.
>> 10 Pac-12 teams are in the Top 76 in ESPN RPI and BPI, Sagarin and KenPom indexes.

10 - Ten Pac-12 teams have an NCAA Strength of Schedule in the top 50, the most in the nation. OREGON, STANFORD and OREGON STATE rank first, second and eighth, respectively, in the category.

PAC-12 QUICK HITS

FIGHT TO THE FINISH: Five games are separating 11 teams in the Pac-12 standings as of Feb. 16. Only the SEC (4 games, 11 teams) has a smaller separation between as many teams in its league standings.

Since the conference expanded to the Pac-10 and an 18-game schedule in 1978, the most losses for a regular-season league champion is five (1985 - WASH/USC; 2010 - CAL; 2013 - UCLA).

HOME SWEET HOME: The Pac-12 owns three of the nation’s top 14 longest home-court win streaks. OREGON owns the nation’s sixth-best streak at 22 straight games after the Ducks ended ARIZONA’s national-best 49-game streak on Jan. 28. CALIFORNIA (17 games, t-9th) and USC (15 games, 14th) are also enjoying lengthy home streaks.

TOUGH ROAD TO VEGAS: Only three teams have completed a road sweep in 34 attempts so far in league play:

UTAH at WSU/WASH
ORE at ARIZ/ASU
ARIZ at WSU/WASH

BRACKETOLOGY: The Pac-12 is currently projected to earn 6-to-8 NCAA Tournament bids according to various major sports news bracketology posts:

USA Today - 8
CBSSports.com - 7 (+1 First Four Out)
NBCSports.com - 7 (+1 First Four Out)
FOXSports.com - 7 (+1 Next Four Out)
Sporting News - 7 (+1 on bubble)
ESPN.com - 6 (+1 FFO/+1 NFO)
SI.com - 6

TOP 100 CHARTS: Through Feb. 15, the Pac-12 has 98 wins against NCAA RPI Top 100 teams, led by ARIZONA (11-5), CALIFORNIA (10-7), OREGON (14-5), USC (9-7) and UTAH (12-7).

The Pac-12 has 46 total wins versus the RPI Top 50, paced by OREGON (8-3), OREGON STATE (6-5) and UTAH (6-6).

CALIFORNIA (4-4), OREGON (6-2), OREGON STATE (5-5), STANFORD (3-9), UTAH (3-4) and WASHINGTON (3-7) combine for 24 of the Pac-12’s 31 RPI Top 25 wins.

EVERY GAME’S A BATTLE: Through 76 league games as of Feb. 14:
>> Average scoring margin is 10.6 ppg.
>> 38 have been decided by single digits.
>> 13 have been decided by one possession (3 pts or less).
>> Seven have gone to OT, 12 total OT periods.
>> Six decided by a team’s final possession.

OSCAR TRIO FOR PAC-12: After only three recipients in the award’s first six years, Pac-12 players earned three straight selections for the USBWA Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week, the first-time a conference has earned three consecutive awards:

Ryan Anderson, ARIZONA - Feb. 9, 2016
Dillon Brooks, OREGON - Feb. 2, 2016
Jakob Poeltl, UTAH - Jan. 26, 2016
Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA - Dec. 2012
Faisal Aden, WASHINGTON STATE - Jan. 2012
Jerome Randle, CALIFORNIA - Feb. 2010

#PAC12HOOPS LINEUP

1 - Picked 10th in the preseason media poll, USC has defied expectations to return to the national rankings and NCAA Tournament contention this season under third-year head coach Andy Enfield. Pac-12 All-Access went behind the scenes ahead of the Trojans' recent rivalry rematch with UCLA to see why the tide has turned in Troy.

2 - One reason USC might be so improved in 2015-16 could be due to the team's influences. As USA Today notes, the Trojans are taking their cues from NBA frontrunners Golden State and San Antonio.

3 - He's a psychology major and starting point guard for UTAH, but did you know Brandon Taylor has honed his acting chops and wants to pursue a career in Hollywood? How about the fact that four of COLORADO's five starters have familial ties to the armed forces? These stories and more are part of the Pac-12's #Compete12 Student Awareness Week and can be found this week at www.pac-12.com/complete.

4 - Speaking of acting chops - did you know one of the Pac-12's top three-point marksmen once appeared on the Teletubbies? CalBears.com tells the story of junior guard Jordan Mathews' journey to Berkeley in its latest Hometown Hero feature. 

5 - It's a big rivalry week in the Pac-12, first on Wednesday night with No. 12 ARIZONA hosting ARIZONA STATE in the Territorial Cup on ESPN2.

6 - Then on Saturday it's the 346th edition of the Civil War Rivalry pitting OREGON STATE at No. 16 OREGON. Pac-12 Networks will air this week's meeting of the most-contested rivalry in the history of college basketball.

7 - Along with having a conference-high five All-Star selections, former Pac-12 standouts dominated during NBA All-Star Weekend claiming All-Star Game MVP honors (Russell Westbrook) as well as titles in the Three-Point Contest (Klay Thompson) and epic Slam Dunk Contest (Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon).

8 - Pac-12 Player of the Week Jabari Bird evoked a classic "throw it down" from Bill Walton to make the cut, but COLORADO's George King came away with the #12Best Play of the Week with a buzzer-beating three that may have saved the Buffaloes' chances at dancing next month.

9 - COLORADO's King may have been the hero last Thursday night, but it was Wesley Gordon who filled in for injured frontcourt teammate and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year candidate Josh Scott in the Buffaloes' two wins last week. Stepping up when his number is called is nothing new for Gordon though as Pat Rooney of The Denver Post writes.

10 - The Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge is down to its final 16 coaches and OREGON's Dana Altman (Children's Miracle Network) and ARIZONA's Sean Miller (Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona) remain in contention to earn $100,000 for their respective charities.

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