How quickly our East-coast brethren forget that we play sports out here. It's a downright travesty and evidenced in Joe Lunardi's first Bracketology break down of the year where he predicted the mighty Pac-10 will get only two teams in the tournament out of 65.
Wow. Two. That's as many as the Missouri Valley conference got. Nothing against Missouri State and Northern Iowa but damn, that must be be some valley to match the entire western seaboard where college dynasties were invented.
The underlying issue, though, is the Pac-10 has really underperformed in its non-conference schedule so far and doesn't have many games left with which to distinguish itself on a national stage. In years past, a strong showing against some of the higher-ranked conference opponents helped out the bubble teams but with all the Pac-10 teams down, that aid is gone.
After Washington (assuming they can get their turnovers under control) and California (who can really help its cause with a win or at least a good showing at Kansas on what is becoming Pac-10 Test Day, December 22) our next-best hope is SURPIRSE - Washington State??
Yes. The Cougars in their new score-first system with coach Bone and sophomore Klay Thompson have a chance to get noticed after a close loss at Gonzaga and win against Air Force. Their December 22 test is against a weakened LSU squad.
Arizona State might well be our last-best case for dancing. They lost their studs of a year ago but have taken over the defense-minded game Wazzu abandoned. If they can stick to their slow-tempo and efficient scoring, it could lead to some surprising wins to go along with an early victory over LSU and a good showing against Duke in the pre-season NIT.
So mark your calendars Pac-10 fans, because good games on Dec. 22 will be our best chance at any games in March.