Home > Sports > NCAAM: Pac-10 may be down, but it offers fascinating conference title race

NCAAM: Pac-10 may be down, but it offers fascinating conference title race

January 13, 2010

Bashing the Pac-10 has been a sport within a sport this season, but I’m here to tell you something that may surprise you: This is going to be the most fascinating race inside any of the big six conferences.

The first reason I say this is that this thing could not be more wide open. It appears that no fewer than six of the league’s 10 teams have a legitimate chance to win this thing — and I’m not even including UCLA, which may have a little life in them yet.

Then there are the intriguing storylines to tickle our fancy. Can USC still contend for a title even though it is not eligible for the postseason? Will Arizona, which is off to a 2-2 start in the league, keep its nation’s-best 25-year NCAA tournament streak alive? Inquiring minds want to know.

I realize calling a league race “wide open” is the same as calling it “mediocre,” but you have to admit, the early results have been pretty wacky. Based on the first week of action, the only thing you can predict is unpredictability. Struggling UCLA clipped California in Berkeley by one point on Michael Roll‘s late jumper. Stanford got waxed on the road at Cal by 26 points and then swept the L.A. schools at home. Oregon, led by always-on-the-hot-seat coach Ernie Kent, sat atop the standings after the first week with a 2-0 record, but then the Ducks lost on Sunday night at home to Oregon State. That’s the same Oregon State team that last week lost to Seattle by 51 points.

You can’t make this stuff up.

But the main reason this league is going to be must-see TV is because everybody knows that NCAA tournament bids are going to be hard to come by. Personally, I think three bids (including the automatic) is the minimum, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Pac-10 only puts two teams into the tournament. That will put a much greater urgency on finishing in the top tier that you won’t find in any of the other power conferences. And there’s nothing more fun than watching teams play that are desperate.

So keep bashing the Pac-10 all you want. Skip their late-night games and get your sleep. I, for one, plan to drink lots of coffee and set my DVR to catch as much of the action as I can. Who would have guessed that a bunch of games between mediocre west coast teams could be so much fun to watch?

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