After the first chunk of the conference season, parity is probably the word that best sums up the state of college basketball in the West, including the Pac-12, Mountain West and West Coast conferences.
Arizona has clearly established itself as head and shoulders above the rest at this point, but after the Wildcats, nothing is concrete.
San Diego State really has made the best case for the No. 2 spot, but even then the Aztecs, on their home court, trailed a mediocre Fresno State team with 10 minutes to play on Wednesday. This came after beating Air Force by seven and Boise State by just three.
Oregon, the previously ranked No. 2 team, needied overtime to beat Utah on Jan. 2 and has now lost three straight, including home losses to Cal and Stanford.
Colorado has lost two straight games and also lost its best player for the season in Spencer Dinwiddie.
Utah scored just 46 points in a loss to Washington State, a team that lost to Stanford by 32, Arizona State by 19 and that scored just 25 points in a 35-point loss to Arizona.
Meanwhile in the WCC, Gonzaga got handled by Portland, and Saint Mary’s lost at home to Santa Clara. BYU, on the other hand, rattled off four straight wins and is suddenly second in the conference standings as the rest of the WCC teams knocked each other off. Pacific, which at one point found itself cracking these power rankings, is 1-4 in conference play.
In the Mountain West it’s no better, either. Nevada, which looked weak in non-conference play, is second in the conference standings at 4-1 with wins over Utah State, UNLV and Wyoming. The Wolf Pack lost to Boise State at home in their last game, right after Boise had lost at home to Wyoming.
New Mexico just lost at home to UNLV after struggling to beat mediocre San Jose State, Wyoming and Colorado State. UNLV’s win at New Mexico came after ugly home losses to Nevada and Air Force. Utah State has been inconsistent as well.
While parity is great in some sports, like the NFL, it’s not such a good thing in college basketball where there are more than 300 Division 1 teams and NCAA Tournament bids are so hotly contested. All of these conferences would like to see an upper echelon separating itself from the rest of the pack. Outside of Arizona, however, that really is not happening.
Nate Gagon is a published sports, music and creative writer. He is also a wholehearted father, grateful husband and ardent student of life. He shoots roughly 94% from the free-throw line and can be reached at: email@example.com or @nategagon.