Tune into a Pac-12 game these days and there’s a good chance the first thing you see will be a missed shot. Or a turnover. Or a wasted possession in some form or fashion.
Frankly, the offense in this conference is offensive.
That’s not simply our opinion — the metrics agree. At least, one well-respected metric agrees: Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings.
The Hotline tallied the number of teams in each conference that rank among the top 50 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, which measures points per 100 possessions against an average Division I defense.
Not surprisingly, the Pac-12 lags its power conference peers, and not by a little.
Only three teams cracked the top 50 in offensive efficiency: No. 5 Arizona, No. 11 UCLA and No. 48 Washington State (through Sunday’s games).
How does that compare?
Here are the number of top-50 teams in KenPom.com offensive efficiency for each Power Six league, along with the total number of teams in that conference (and the percentage):
ACC: 9/15 (60 percent)
Big 12: 6/10 (60 percent)
Big East: 6/11 (54.5 percent)
Big Ten: 6/14 (42.8 percent)
SEC: 6/14 (42.8 percent)
Pac-12: 3/12 (25 percent)
The situation seems particularly unpleasant for Pac-12 football fans, who were treated to entertaining, high-level offense throughout the fall.
The offensive offense on the hardwood was central to the woeful showing in non-conference play, when the Pac-12 produced a win rate of just 63.4 percent.
Is the problem rooted in a lack of skill or poor coaching? Yes, and yes.
It’s certainly not because Pac-12 defenses are airtight. Conference play accounts for approximately one-third of each team’s schedule thus far.
And there’s no reason to expect a noticeable improvement.
As we mentioned Sunday in a recap of the weekend results, Pac-12 teams shot just 31.7 percent from 3-point range in the 20 games played from Thursday through Sunday.
At this rate, the gang that couldn’t shoot straight will collect just two or three NCAA Tournament bids.
To the power ratings …
(NET rankings through Monday)
1. UCLA (14-2/5-0)
Last week: 2
Results: beat USC 60-58
Next up: vs. Utah (Thursday)
NET ranking: 7
Comment: With the Mountain schools visiting, then road games against the Arizona schools and USC, the Bruins have five difficult assignments ahead. Sweep, and they will lock down frontrunner status before February arrives.
2. Arizona (14-2/3-2)
Last week: 1
Results: beat Washington 70-67, lost to WSU 74-61
Next up: at Oregon State (Thursday)
NET ranking: 9
Comment: How many double-digit losses can a team sustain in a mediocre conference before its pursuit of a No. 1 seed turns futile? The Wildcats have two (Utah and WSU), which is probably the max allowable.
3. Arizona State (13-3/4-1)
Last week: 4
Results: beat WSU 77-71 and Washington 73-65
Next up: at Oregon (Thursday)
NET ranking: 59
Comment: The four conference wins have come by one, four, six and eight points. The lone loss? By nine. Welcome to another season on the pitchfork’s edge.
4. Utah (12-5/5-1)
Last week: 3
Results: beat OSU 79-60, lost to Oregon 70-60
Next up: at UCLA (Thursday)
NET ranking: 46
Comment: More futility against the Ducks, but on the bright side: The Utes have already won more games overall, and in league play, than they did last year (11 and four).
5. Colorado (11-6/3-3)
Last week: 7
Results: beat Oregon 68-41 and OSU 62-42
Next up: at USC (Thursday)
NET ranking: 61
Comment: Given how the season has gone, don’t be surprised if the Buffaloes lose at USC by double digits, then upset UCLA. After all, this is the same team that lost to Grambling and handled Tennessee a few days later.
6. Oregon (9-7/3-2)
Last week: 5
Results: lost at Colorado 68-41, won at Utah 70-60
Next up: vs. ASU (Thursday)
NET ranking: 65
Comment: The Ducks had best treat every game the rest of the way like an NCAA berth hangs in the balance. Because it does.
7. Washington State (7-10/2-4)
Last week: 8
Results: lost at ASU 77-71, won at Arizona 74-61
Next up: vs. Cal (Wednesday)
NET ranking: 70
Comment: Three days later, we still cannot believe it. By 13 points. In Tucson. Unreal.
8. USC (11-5/3-2)
Last week: 6
Results: lost at UCLA 60-58
Next up: vs. Colorado (Thursday)
NET ranking: 75
Comment: The Trojans are still searching for a Quad 1 victory but won’t get a chance this weekend. Neither Mountain school qualifies because the games are in the Galen Center. In Boulder or Salt Lake City, both would be Q1 opportunities.
9. Oregon State (7-9/1-4)
Last week: 9
Results: lost at Utah 79-60 and Colorado 62-42
Next up: vs. Arizona (Thursday)
NET ranking: 222
Comment: We’ll stop short of picking an upset but expect the game Thursday night to be in doubt with two minutes remaining … before Arizona produces one or two plays that make all the difference.
10. Washington (9-8/1-5)
Last week: 10
Results: lost at Arizona 70-67 and ASU 73-65
Next up: vs. Stanford (Thursday)
NET ranking: 129
Comment: Meet this week’s winner of the horseshoes and hand grenades competitions.
11. Cal (3-13/2-3)
Last week: 12
Results: beat Stanford 92-70
Next up: at Washington State (Wednesday)
NET ranking: 249
Comment: Too bad every opponent can’t be Stanford. Mark Fox is 5-4 against the Cardinal in his three-and-a-half seasons and 2,738 games under .500 against everyone else.
12. Stanford (5-10/0-5)
Last week: 11
Results: lost at Cal 92-70
Next up: at Washington (Thursday)
NET ranking: 137
Comment: If that 45-minute bus ride back across the Bay didn’t feel like the world’s longest flight, something is rotten at the center of the program.
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