Bruins slipping in Pac-12 race

Wasn’t the Pac-12 supposed to be better this year?

After Arizona’s loss at Colorado, Oregon is alone in the lead again at 9-3. If the Ducks don’t sweep their final six games, the conference champion will have at least four losses for the fifth straight year. Yes, the conference could get four teams in the NCAA tournament, but year-to-year improvement is still coming at snail’s pace.

Meanwhile, UCLA is slipping close to another embarrassing milestone: finishing with a worse conference record than USC for the first time since Ben Howland’s first season in Los Angeles.

Here are the current standings, clipped from Pac-12.com.

The Bruins last finished below the Trojans in 2003-04, when they had seven Pac-10 wins to USC’s eight. (Both had 8-10 records in 2009-10, but USC took the tiebreaker with two head-to-head victories.) Only one game separates the two teams now; if the Trojans beat Cal and UCLA loses at Stanford, they’ll be tied heading into a Feb. 24 rematch at the Galen Center. In 10 days, UCLA could very well be looking up at its crosstown rival.

Will that happen? For what it’s worth, Ken Pomeroy currently has UCLA losing three more games — Stanford, USC, Arizona — finishing at 11-7 for the second straight year. However, the latter two games are almost statistical coin-flips: the Bruins have a 48 percent chance of beating the Trojans and 44 percent of beating the Wildcats. (He has the Trojans finishing 10-8 after losing to both Washington schools.)

Pomeroy’s numbers-crunching only gives UCLA more than a 57 percent chance at winning one game — ASU, pegged right now at 75 percent. Basically, the rest of the season is a toss-up.

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  • Michael Daly

    The conference is better. Almost every team has the chance to beat another on a given night. Look at the out of conference records versus last year to examine if the conference has improved or not.

    • http://twitter.com/thejackwang Jack Wang

      I do think the conference is clearly better, but can you say it’s higher than fourth or fifth in the country?

      • Michael Daly

        No, definitely not in the top four conferences imo. But I think trending in the right direction.

  • Marc

    I believe the conference is better than last year. I also believe that should not be an excuse for the abysmal performance by this squad throughout the year.

    The national media (read: ESPN) likes to say the Big Ten is super competitive for the fact that any team can beat the other, especially on their home court. They also like to point to the same thing in the PAC-12 as a reason why the conference is down. LOL on the WWL.

  • Mark

    Anyone sensible is rooting for a mid-table finish so we can finally rid ourselves of Howland

    • benzo

      I’d be happy to get rid of him before Vegas so in case we make a run we don’t have to worry about it saving his job.

    • Michael Daly

      I for one am rooting for the team to win the conference. Being a Bruin fan and all.

      • Mark

        Actual Bruin fans realize Howland has ruined the team. He needs to be replaced for Ucla to ever be great again.

        • Michael Daly

          Maybe Howland needs to go. Until he is gone, I root for the team. Is that Ok, “actual” Bruin fan?

          • drakejr

            Apparently not when it comes to certain Bruin fans. In order to save the team, we must destroy it. Anybody who thinks otherwise is branded as a monster.

            Ben Howland’s seat is plenty hot right now. I don’t think people need to root for disaster if they want to see him leave the program.

          • Mark

            You really don’t get it. Nothing good can come from winning any single game the rest of the way. It must be a total collapse for the administration to have the guts to act.

            Remember the steps that lead to Neuheisal’s dismissal. It was 1 calamatiy after another. But 100% of Bruins fans would agree that football is in a much better position now–in fact, the program is the envy of the conference.

            I’m confidant that’s what awaits the basketball team. We might as well get started on the re-building next season.

          • Michael Daly

            Nothing good can come from winning a game? The conference? A tournament game? All that matters is Howland fails? I guess you will be wearing red and white today, i will be in blue and gold.

          • Mark

            Go Cardinal!

          • maze949

            Spoken like a true BN sycophantic loser. Judging by your amount of typos above, you’re obviously not a UCLA alum; and by your most recent post, not a fan either…

  • Bigwoof1

    So Ken Pomeroy is wrong already. The only “expert” whose statistics and predictions are reliable is Nate Silver.