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‘Conference of Champions?’ Certainly not this year in Pac-12
College basketball » Usually strong UCLA, Arizona can’t carry weak league.

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On top of that, so many highly rated players have been either injured, ruled academically ineligible, dismissed or transferred from Pac-12 schools that they could comprise their own all-star team.

Oregon’s Jabari Brown left after two games, for example, and headed to Missouri. Arizona State’s Keala King was kicked off the team in December, after star recruit Jahii Carson was ruled ineligible, just like Cal’s Richard Montgomery. Reeves Nelson was thrown off a UCLA team that already had watched a fleet of its players transfer to star elsewhere — including UNLV’s Mike Mason and Chance Stanback, Brigham Young’s Matt Carlino and New Mexico’s Drew Gordon.

At a glance

Stumblin’ with the Pac

Team League Overall RPI

Washington 14-3 21-8 49

Cal 13-4 23-7 36

Oregon 12-5 21-8 48

Arizona 12-5 21-9 66

Colorado 11-6 19-10 77

UCLA 10-7 17-13 131

Stanford 9-8 19-10 105

Oregon State 6-11 16-13 156

Washington St. 6-11 14-15 182

Arizona State 5-12 9-20 253

Utah 3-14 6-23 259

USC 1-16 6-24 272

Through Thursday’s games Source: RealTimeRPI.com

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Coaches in the Pac-12 say the downturn is part of a cycle; the league sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament just four years ago, after all.

And Pomeroy buys that argument, recalling that six of the 10 teams in the old Pac-10 finished with losing records in 2003-04 — no more than four teams will do so this year — not long before the Bruins ignited the conference’s most recent run of success.

"The problem is none of the teams are going to get a good seed" in the NCAA Tournament, he said. "So whatever negative reputation the league has now, it’s going to be very difficult to do anything about that in the tournament."

As always, recruiting has been at the heart of it all.

Since 2008, the league has had only three top-10 recruiting classes, according to the Rivals.com recruiting service. Two of them belonged to UCLA, which obviously couldn’t sustain them.

The other belonged to Arizona, which had the No. 4 class last season and is one team with a particularly bright future. Coach Sean Miller is so far assembling the top current recruiting class in the country loaded with frontcourt talent, while the Bruins were not far behind — until the SI article, anyway — and had locked up swingman Kyle Anderson, one of the top-rated players in the country.

In other words, there is hope for a brighter future. It just isn’t going to come this season.

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