Since the conference schedule is almost upon us, it's time to reflect upon the OOC results thus far and maybe rethink how the conference may play out. So we'll let you know our thoughts on what we've seen and sort out the good from the bad and the meh. Now these expectations were mine, so you can quibble about that if you wish. Your thoughts and observations are encouraged and welcomed.
Feel free to add some input on your thoughts on PAC 10 Big Dance Participants in our poll.
Better Than Expected - Again, this is by no means stating that these teams will continue to do well in the conference, but taking what they have accomplished thus far and weighing that against expectations at the start of the season.
Washington State - OOC record 10-2 thus far. Their best win was at home versus LSU. Played well in losses against Gonzaga (at Gonzaga) and against Kansas State.
Arizona State - OOC record 10-3. They were able to defeat San Diego State, some might say that they benefitted after SDSU took out their frustration on the 'Cats, but I think that's a cop out. The Devils also had a close game with Baylor and looked respectable against Duke. Not that we're too big on moral victories here, but ASU has done better than our Cats and their outlook is on the rise.
USC - OOC record 7-4. Great win against Tennessee. Regardless of anyone's personal feelings about O'Neill and his style, it should be noted that if the players can accept his ways, he can teach, especially defense. In the "Not so good" column was their effort against Loyola Marymount. But they have some transfers available to play now, so we'll have to see more.
Same as Expected
Washington - OOC record 8-2. best wins were against Portland and Texas A&M. Not so great, was the loss to Texas Tech. While they haven't embarassed the conference any worse than anyone else, they haven't helped matters much in the way of perception either.
Stanford - OOC record 5-6. No one was expecting much and the Cardinal hath delivered. They won against Virginia, but then again, expectations for the Cavaliers weren't high. Lost to San Diego, not state, just the city itself. Have heard that the 'Furd aren't even allowed to go to Sea World.
Worse than Expected
Arizona - OOC record 6-5. Ugly loss to Oklahoma and SDSU, Cats were never in those games. Decent win against NCSt. but nothing remarkable. Some hoped (like everyone in S. Arizona) that the process would be faster, but a new system, with 5 new players in key roles simply is going to take more time, just as Miller promised. More than likely a case of rising expectations from the fanbase fueling unrealistic optimism.
Oregon - OOC record 7-4. lauded recruiting classes, experience for the new kids and Big Ernie coaching for his job and what do they have to show for it? A big helping of "so what" to start the year. Highlighted by a loss to Montana (at home no less), yeech.
California - OOC record 6-4. National attention, coach on the rise, good scorers, good team quickness and then they come out and get punked big time by Syracuse. The biggest accomplishment, a win against Iowa State, big deal. Bigger things were expected, now we'll have to wait and see.
Oregon State - OOC record 6-5. These guys were the dark horse pick to contend, now they look like... well... Oregon State. Ugly resume losses to UIC, AMCC and CSUS.
UCLA - OOC record 4-7. They may not be in free fall, but a lot of folks are waiting for the chute to open. Losses to CS Fullerton and Long Beach are not exactly part of the UCLA standard. Losing Gordon to transfer means that the new guys have to get ready sooner. Lots of kids leaving early have finally caught up to them and they're still working out the teamwork kinks, see the UA example from above.
So about bids to the Big Dance? Washington should have theirs by reputation alone providing they don't finish any lower than 2nd. That expected bid for Cal... I wouldn't count on that unless there's a bunch of underperforming from some of the other major conferences. If you want to be on the NCAA dance card, better impress in conference or in the conference tourney because no one has built a bulletproof resume as of yet.