Pac-12 basketball: Where it went wrong in 2018-19 season

A quick have a look at most NCAA Tournament bracket projections will current as a lot as 9 ACC teams and as many as eight faculties from the Big 12, Big Ten, and SEC anticipated to partake in March Madnessn this yr. Far down the itemizing of conferences is the Pac-12, with solely two bids displaying attainable, an affect conference rarity.

While the Pac-12 stays to be an affect conference in title, the success of its basketball teams this season signifies it’s one thing nonetheless correct now. It hasn’t been thought-about the “best” conference in the sport in some time, nonetheless it’s having a yr to miss — one which may end result in the equivalent or fewer NCAA Tournament bids than the American Athletic, Mountain West or Southern Conference.

Where has it all gone wrong for the Pac-12 in 2018-19? Take a check out among the many components to a lackluster basketball season:

Traditional powers have struggled

Arizona, Oregon, and UCLA, teams which had been on the prime of the conference at completely completely different situations over the earlier 5 years, are all having down seasons, and none seems to have a shot at an at-large bid in the 2019 match. The conference’s NCAA Tournament hopes leisure with widespread season champion Washington (24-6, 15-2 in Pac-12), bubble workforce Arizona State (20-9, 11-6), and presumably a third workforce worthwhile the conference match.

Not exactly the consequence some predicted sooner than the season.

That paints a darkish picture for the Pac-12’s NCAA Tournament hopes this yr — even worse than remaining season, when merely three conference teams — Arizona, Arizona State, and UCLA — made the match. The latter two misplaced in the First Four and the earlier was upset in the first spherical. If the conference secures solely two bids to March Madness in 2019, it will be merely the second time that has occurred given that Pac-12 first fielded 12 teams in 2012. California and Colorado have been the conference’s solely bids that yr, with regular-season champion Washington notably being omitted.

The struggles of the usual powers this season have left an affect vacuum in the Pac-12 — and no clear candidates to advance to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Even Washington, under Pac-12 Coach of the Year Mike Hopkins, is barely 2-4 in Quadrant 1 video video games. Hopkins’ 2-3 zone safety, which he adopted from Syracuse, has paid dividends, nonetheless the Huskies will need common offensive contributions to make noise previous the first spherical.

Struggles in nonconference play

Besides cannibalizing itself in conference play, Pac-12 teams have struggled mightily in nonconference video video games in direction of faculties from the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Big East this season. Of course that all goes out the window in March Madness, nonetheless it’s not an important sign. The 12 faculties have been a measly 7-26 in nonconference play this yr. Three of those wins have come from the Sun Devils, who’ve primarily essentially the most confounding resume in the conference.

Although to not the equivalent extreme as remaining yr, Arizona State as quickly as as soon as extra put collectively spectacular nonconference wins at first of the season (Mississippi State, Utah State, Kansas), sooner than struggling some harmful losses in Pac-12 play. With three Quadrant 1 wins and 7 Quadrant 2 victories, its NCAA Tournament chances are high excessive in flux, regardless that it serves as a result of the conference’s most interesting hope for numerous bids.

Top-flight freshmen have gone all the way in which all the way down to hurt

Injuries to numerous freshmen who entered the yr with extreme expectations have taken quite a few the shine off the conference as properly. UCLA freshmen Tyger Campbell (torn ACL) and Shareef O’Neal (coronary coronary heart ailment) had their seasons come to an end sooner than they may even take the court docket docket. Bol Bol, the No. 4 participant in the 247Sports activities actions’ Composite rankings for 2018, averaged 21 elements in 9 video video games sooner than having his season end prematurely with a foot hurt. He is predicted to enter the NBA Draft.

And for people who would say no single participant might make or break a workforce’s success … merely check out Duke’s struggles since Zion Williamson was misplaced to hurt in the North Carolina sport.

DECOURCY: Washington’s Thybulle is a defensive virtuoso

Off-court factors

The largest concern correct now surrounding numerous coaches in the conference is the FBI scandal looming in the sport, which might impression Arizona coach Sean Miller — in addition to USC coach Andy Enfield. The full extent of any punishment is unknown correct now.

It’s no secret that UCLA hasn’t been able to get its bearings this season, and a lot will hinge on who the Bruins hire to change dismissed coach Steve Alford. Lakers coach Luke Walton and Nevada coach Eric Musselman are two potential candidates, nonetheless whoever is employed must have the objects in place to return UCLA close to the caliber workforce it was as these days as two years in the previous.

Hope for the long run

Whether guards Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes hold or declare for the NBA Draft is a huge question surrounding the Bruins, nonetheless regardless, all 5 members of UCLA’s 2018 recruiting class are anticipated to return, along with Campbell and O’Neal. A bunch of six redshirt and true freshmen are averaging 39.5 elements per sport for the youthful Bruins, giving them a sign of optimism shifting forward.

Arizona — which misplaced its full starting lineup from a yr in the previous — will as quickly as as soon as extra be restocking with its recruiting class, which is led by five-star recruits Nico Mannion and Josh Green. 247Sports activities actions has the Wildcats’ group, which moreover incorporates four-stars Zeke Nnaji, Terry Armstrong, and Christian Koloko, as the very best recruiting class in the nation. 

Oregon will attainable be getting freshmen Louis King and Will Richardson once more, and the developing blocks can pair with stage guard Payton Pritchard and a promising recruiting class. USC is predicted to hold in five-star recruits Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu, in addition to 2 four-star prospects. Washington and Arizona State have a strong foundation in place that is ripe with potential.

Not a lot has gone to plan in the Pac-12 this yr, nonetheless 2019-2020 may provide a lot much less embarrassing outcomes for the conference. There is hope for the Pac-12, regardless that the outcomes this season have been unkind. The conference desires it.

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