College basketball conference rankings: Pac-12 hits rock bottom

CORVALLIS, OREGON - FEBRUARY 08: Payton Pritchard #3 of the Oregon Ducks reacts during the second half against the Oregon State Beavers at Gill Coliseum on February 08, 2020 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)
CORVALLIS, OREGON - FEBRUARY 08: Payton Pritchard #3 of the Oregon Ducks reacts during the second half against the Oregon State Beavers at Gill Coliseum on February 08, 2020 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images) /

West Coast bias is alive and well in college basketball as the Pac-12 is on life support after seeing their one chance at March Madness relevancy go down in flames over the weekend.

1. Big 12

It looks like the Baylor Bears are destined to hold on to the number one spot through the rest of the regular season. Things got a little tight against the Oklahoma State Cowboys for a moment but they ultimately prevailed in the end. Meanwhile, Udoka Azubuike is carrying the Kansas Jayhawks as they attempt to overtake Scott Drew’s crew.

The conference has done all that could be asked of it to be considered top in the nation and with no real slip-ups to happen yet they once again find themselves at the top of these rankings. Given what we’ve seen from the top two teams over the last three months, it is more likely than not that the eventual national champion comes from the Midwest.

2. ACC

For one season the ACC has lost its title as the best conference in all of college basketball. Lousiville is doing what they can but a watered-down version of the North Carolina Tar Heels is partially to blame, the defending champion Virginia Cavaliers are also not at the top of their game this year either.

However, there’s nothing like a good old fashion rivalry and we were treated to the game of the year when Duke and North Carolina met for the first time. In both regulation and overtime, Tre Jones purposely missed a free throw attempt and each time the Blue Devils retained possession of the ball and eventually found a way to get a basket when it mattered most.

First, Jones sank the midrange jump shot to send it to overtime and then Wendell Carter rebounded an airball and then put it in off the backboard before the buzzer sounded. Is it March 7 yet?

3. SEC

John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats are rounding into form at the right time once again. Even with some departures — Kahlil Whitney has announced that he will be leaving the program (and likely turning pro) — but in his absence, Nick Richards has put together a player of the year type of season to help lead the team.

However, it is Will Wade’s LSU Tigers that are at the top of the SEC standings. Skylar Mays is turning heads and the team has enough talent up and down the roster to maintain its hold on the number one spot. Going forward, those two teams will likely battle it out for Southeastern supremacy. Don’t sleep on Bruce Pearl’s Tigers down in Auburn either.

4. Big Ten

One of the other big rivalry games of the weekends featured the Michigan State Spartans and the Michigan Wolverines squaring off for the second and final (scheduled) time of the year. In their first meeting, Tom Izzo’s team got the best of first-year head coach, Juwan Howard, early and often.

Yet, this go-around, it was the Wolverines who had control of the game. Zavier Simpson — back from suspension — got the better of his backcourt rival, Cassius Winston and helped his team get a much-needed win during a vital stretch of play.

At the top, the Maryland Terrapins have regained their footing as the top team in the league as conference play nears its end in the next month. Sidenote, Bob Knight went back to Bloomington.

5. Big East

For the last few years, the Big East has been Villanova’s conference to own. Jay Wright’s team had its way with their opponents and then went on to win two out of three NCAA championships. While other teams put up valiant efforts occasionally, in the end, it was the Wildcats that continually emerged as the victors.

This season, that is no longer the case. Given their loss over the weekend to Seton Hall — who is enjoying a great senior year out of Myles Powell — they now sit in a three-way tie for second place and a full three games back of the Pirates in the loss column.

6. American

The Memphis hype train broke down on the tracks and is getting repairs done to it currently. Penny Hardaway’s wanted all the smoke prior to the season starting and he’s gotten that and then some this year. Yet, there’s still enough talent on the roster for them to operate as the thorn in someone’s side when the NCAA Tournament begins.

Neither Wichita State or Houston have been consistent enough to fill the vacated spot that the Tigers’ backslide has opened up within the conference. Only time will tell whether or not Hardaway can get his troops back on track when the bright lights and all the eyes in Memphis are affixed on his team.

7. Pac-12

What can I say about the Pac-12? I’ve been rooting for West Coast basketball to matter nationally once again all year long. However, week-after-week, the conference has found new and different ways to disappoint.

For the longest, it felt like all of the Pac-12’s eggs lied with the Oregon Ducks. After the latest Civil War game, the Oregon State Beavers came out as the top team in the Pacific Northwest (not named Gonzaga). Washington has not been able to put together a streak of winning games.

For all the potential that the Arizona Wildcats showed early, they drop a winnable game on a weekly basis.

USC and UCLA aren’t yet back on the pedestal they once were (plus San Diego State reigns supreme in California). Overall, the conference is at an all-time low in the year.

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