We're halfway through the non-conference portion of most teams' schedules, so let's take a quick look around at the State of the Conference. My original post is here, and please note the excellent comment by PaulThomas which lists the various tournaments our teams are participating in this year.
As a quick summary, this year has not been as bad as last year, but it's still bad. Wait, don't look at that link... OUCH MY EYES. Man, that list of losses is impressive, and the notable wins were few. In fact, wins that actually made people across the nation sit up and take notice were.... zero. Actually zero. We're not quite that bad this year.
If anything, we seem to be on pace for more bad losses and more solid wins this year. Go figure. Part of that probably has to do with my taking the conference as a whole, rather than going team-by-team in detail. I think we all know that UW and Arizona are good this year, and barring massive setbacks are our early favorites for conference champions and NCAA consideration. WSU has looked good but has yet to notch anything resembling a signature win. Cal and USC both have had their moments, but while Cal is up and down USC looks to be getting its act together at last. The rest of the conference has been nothing special.
Good wins: Cal over Temple and USC over Texas are (I believe) our only wins over teams ranked at the time.
Good losses: If there can be such a thing, it would include UW to Michigan State and Kentucky, WSU to K-State, Cal to Notre Dame, UCLA and Arizona to Kansas, UCLA to Villanova, Oregon to Missouri, and ASU to Baylor. These were all chances to impress and for the most part we played well in these games, just not well enough to win. I'm not including Oregon's blowout to Duke because all it showed is that the bottom of the Pac-10 has no business being on the floor with a Top 5 team. Shocking.
Decent wins: WSU over Fresno State, UW over Virginia and Texas Tech, Cal over New Mexico and Iowa State, Stanford over Virginia and DePaul, Arizona over Rice and Oklahoma, and ASU over UAB.
I'm not going to list the bad losses or inconsequential wins at this time. They all either have a non-positive or flat out negative impact on our conference. Overall, there have been a few blowout wins over teams expected to keep it close (e.g. UW over Virginia, Arizona over Rice, Cal over New Mexico) and the aforementioned two Top 25 wins, but this conference is currently in the mediocre-at-best category.
Again, halfway through the schedule the conference as a whole already has more decent or high-profile wins as it did last year, and is playing much better in close losses to top teams as well. So we're better than last year. We may still end up with only two teams in the tourney if WSU, USC, Cal or a surprise team do not seize their remaining chances to make an impact.
Important games the next few weeks: WSU vs. Gonzaga (Wed) and vs. our possible tournament opponents (starting 12/22), UW at Texas A&M (12/18), Cal vs. SDSU (Wed) and Kansas (12/22), USC at Kansas (12/18) and Tennessee (12/21), and Arizona at BYU (Sat) and NC State (12/19). We need these games people! Step it up!