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A week into men's basketball season, the Pac-12 is running ahead of pace: It has won 77.8% of its nonconference games, with 28 victories against just eight losses.
That exceeds the 75% success rate outside of league play deemed critical to sending at least six teams to the NCAA tournament, according to a data analysis performed by the Pac-12 several years ago.
The deep dive revealed a strong correlation for all the major conferences: Win three-quarters of your non-conference games, and you should send half your teams to March Madness.
But the Pac-12's current success will be difficult to maintain as teams enter holiday tournaments, where heavyweight opponents await.
Framed another way:
If the Pac-12 has won 78% of all games by Dec. 1, it should be well positioned for six or seven bids on Selection Sunday.
To the power ratings …
1. UCLA (3-0)
Last week: 1
Result: beat Villanova 86-77 (OT) and Long Beach State 100-79
Next up: vs. North Florida (Wednesday)
Comment: Six days until the Gonzaga rematch, which doesn't need to be half as compelling as the original. We would happily settle for one-fourth.
2. USC (3-0)
Last week: 3
Result: won at Temple 76-71 and Florida Gulf Coast 78-61
Next up: vs. Dixie State (Monday)
Comment: Given the margins, the opponents and the locations, the Trojans have produced an A-level start in Year One A.E. (After Eric).
3. Arizona (3-0)
Last week: 4
Result: beat UT-Rio Grande Valley 104-50 and North Dakota State 97-55
Next up: vs. Wichita State (Friday)
Comment: Had the Wildcats used this pace of play back when they were really loaded — we're talking six or seven years ago — maybe they would have beaten Wisconsin.
4. Oregon (2-1)
Last week: 2
Result: beat SMU 86-83, lost to Brigham Young 81-49
Next up: vs. Chaminade (Monday)
Comment: After that complete no-show in the Phil Knight Invitational, the boss would be justified in never giving the Ducks another dime.
5. Washington State (3-0)
Last week: 5
Result: beat Seattle 79-61 and Santa Barbara 73-65
Next up: vs. Idaho (Thursday)
Comment: Based on our assessment of WSU's non-conference schedule — hint: it's impossibly soft — any loss would be considered a bad loss for the Cougars.
6. Colorado (3-0)
Last week: 6
Result: beat New Mexico 87-76 and Maine 90-46
Next up: vs. Southern Illinois (Friday)
Comment: Early contender for most improved player in the Pac-12: Buffs sophomore guard Keeshawn Barthelemy, who's averaging 20 points per game, a five-fold increase over last season.
7. Arizona State (2-1)
Last week: 7
Result: lost to UC Riverside 66-65, beat North Florida 72-63
Next up: at San Diego State (Thursday)
Comment: Should go without saying but probably can't: Big game for the Sun Devils (and the conference) on Thursday night. Big, big game.
8. Utah (3-0)
Last week: 9
Result: beat Sacramento State 89-56 and Bethune-Cookman 86-55
Next up: vs. Boston College (Saturday)
Comment: Did Both Gach get his old locker back? Was it even occupied last year? And given how chaotic things were, did the equipment staff have a chance to do his laundry?
9. Oregon State (1-2)
Last week: 8
Result: lost at Iowa State 60-50 and Tulsa 64-58
Next up: vs. Samford (Thursday)
Comment: With every subsequent loss, those three weeks in March seem more like a fever dream than hardcourt reality.
10. Stanford (2-1)
Last week: 10
Result: lost at Santa Clara 88-72, beat San Jose State 76-62
Next up: vs. Valparaiso (Wednesday)
Comment: This much, we know: The Cardinal isn't the worst team in the Bay Area. Still to be determined: If it's the second-worst.
11. Washington (2-1)
Last week: 12
Result: beat Northern Arizona 73-62 and Texas Southern 72-65
Next up: vs. Wyoming (Thursday)
Comment: Every victory should be cherished, because there aren't many left.
12. Cal (1-2)
Last week: 11
Result: lost at UNLV 55-52, beat San Diego 75-70
Next up: vs. Southern Utah (Thursday)
Comment: The good news: A win is a win is a win. The bad news: Cal was 10-of-15 from 3-point range and only beat San Diego by five points.
Jon Wilner's Pac-12 Hotline is brought to KSL.com through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.
Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at email@example.com.
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