Ever since losing Taj Gibson, Darren Collison, Isaiah Thomas, Jrue Holiday, Quincy Poindexter, Landry Fields, James Hardin and others to the pros after their great 2009 season, the Pac 10/12 has been at the bottom of the BCS conferences in basketball. California’s Allen Crabb, ranked as one of the top 50 players in the country at www.valueaddbasketball.com, put an exclamation point on an incredible Thursday for the Pac12 that showed the conference is back on top.
We can only tell how good a conference is in November and December, when conferences are playing each other, and then against in the NCAA tournament. The Pac12 has passed the SEC and Big 12 in November and December play, but apparently while every team was playing within their conference from January through Selection Sunday, the Pac12 was getting even better.
On Thursday, the rest of the country learned how much they had improved.
Crabb scored 19 points and hit two clutch free throws to end a huge night for the Pac10as 12-seed Cal beat 5-seed UNLV 64-61.
Anthony Bennett scored 15 points and had 11 rebounds for 25-10 UNLV.
California actually dominated the game, but hit 4 of 12 free throws at the end to give UNLV a chance. It was the third time in as many tries Thursday that the Pac12 dominated their opponent, and it was the second time that it occurred during an upset of a 5-seed by a 12-seed, which Oregon pulled earlier in the day. Arizona was a slight favorite, but blew out Belmont.
Conference 12 points better than projections, only A10 better Thursday
Coming into the game, the computer projections at www.kenpom.com showed California losing by three points, so the 64-61 win was six points better that projected. Arizona was a 3 point favorite against Belmont and beat them by 17. Oregon was a 4-point underdog and beat them by 13. Put it together, and based on today the Pac12 was more than 12 points better today than they were in November and December.
The only conference that had a better day was the Atlantic 10, where Butler, St. Louis and VCU all won big.
For more details on Cal’s win from UPI, click here.