CougCenter has rejoined the Pac-10 Roundtable, whose format has been changed just a little bit. Rather than each participating blog posting its own thoughts on a series of common questions, we actually are tackling it now more as a chat surrounding one burning question for the week -- and this week's seems especially pertinant to the Cougs.
This week's burning question:
Will the Pac-10 get a 6th team to the NCAA Tournament?
Addicted To Quack: I just don't see a way that the Pac-10 can get another team into the Big Dance. Once you go past Arizona in the standings, your best shot would be Washington State and USC. Wazzu would have to win on the road against the #1 team in conference just to get to a 17-13 record for the year. The Trojans seem to be imploding at the end of the year, losing 6 of their last 7 games. Oregon State? Currently sitting at 13-14. No way. I just can't see any scenario, given the college basketball landscape, that the Pac-10 gets USC or Washington State into the dance.
CougCenter: So, let me get this straight: WSU just beat UCLA on the road, soundly beat what had been the hottest team in the conference, then swept ASU for the season ... and you're dismissing their chances against UW when they've won three straight times in Seattle? I'm just checking to make sure that's what you mean.
Addicted To Quack: Oh don't get me wrong! I like the way the Cougars are playing right now. I just think that even with a win against the Huskies, Washington State won't have enough to get into the NCAA Tournament. Washington is the #1 team in the conference right now and even though the Cougars are playing well, this isn't like playing Oregon...well, maybe Oregon from a couple weeks ago. I think Washington State has to win this game to even get a sniff of the bubble but I don't think they have enough on their resume to make it in the field of 64/65.
Arizona Desert Swarm: After beating the hell out of the Wildcats, I think that WSU is definitely the team to beat in the Pac-10. Unfortunately, I don't think they have enough on the resume to pull off a bid. It's kind of BCSesque if you ask me, but the season needs to be looked at as a whole and not who is streaking at the end. From January 31 to February 19, they lost 5 of 6 games. I have to say that I wouldn't want to be on their schedule this week, but I think they needed a little more push in the middle of the season to make the Tourney.
CougCenter: Trust us -- we know it's a longshot. But even Joe Lunardi admitted -- as I explained a week ago -- that if the Cougs can beat UW and potentially win a game or two in the Pac-10 tournament, they'll be up to 18 or 19 wins with a resume that boasts some impressive wins. Beyond that, they're playing their best ball of the season as freshmen such as Marcus Capers and DeAngelo Casto are now giving significant contributions on a nightly basis. The same can't be said of USC, which is clearly fading.
Pitchfork Nation: I definitely don't think that the Pac-10 DESERVES a 6th bid and it's easy as a Sun Devil fan to run to the top of a mountain and yell profanities about the Cougars at this exact minute. However, if an extra bid just happens to fall into the conference's lap, it should certainly go to the Cougs over USC. You definitely can't penalize WSU for playing their best basketball at the end of the season rather than spreading their good play out across the season. And when you put them up against other bubble teams...Michigan, Florida, San Diego State, Penn State all come to mind...WSU certainly has the quality wins and momentum to actually do some damage in March.
California Golden Blogs: WSU is always going to be at a disadvantge compared to teams like Michigan, Florida, and PSU, just because they are WSU. I don't mean any disrespect to WSU and its team and fans, but it doesnt have the history of a school like Michigan, Florida, or PSU. I'm not on the committee, so I don't know the exact specifications, but they'd be foolish not to take "traveling fan base" into account. Especially in this economic climate. It's just the way it is.
So that puts WSU at a disadvantage here compared to other bubble teams. Not only do they have to win against UW (a certain possibility), but I think they have to go fairly deep into the Pac10 Tourney.
Conquest Chronicles: I don't think getting 6 teams in is as remote a possibility as many think as SC has shown that they can play much better than they have lately and WSU is simply on a tear. While seeing the Trojans or Cougars winning the Pac 10 tournament would be a surprise, its not like it it is outside the realm of conceivability.
...In all seriousness though, SC won't win the tournament with the way they have been playing lately and it is only a matter of time before the Cougars come back down to earth. Sorry, it was fun to dream though.
California Golden Blogs: Well, I don't know how fun it is to dream. Most of my dreams involve me as a squirrel running a hotel restaurant. And with the economy the way it is, running a hotel restaurant is very difficult. Especially as a squirrel.
Conquest Chronicles: Damn, did I really kill the discussion? I guess that's why I don't get invited to the cool parties anymore.
California Golden Blogs: Well that and rampant body odor.
You know who else won't get invited to the cool party this year? A 6th Pac10 team!