First NET rankings kind to the Pac-12 (for some reason)

The Pac-12, which has had more bad press lately than big pharma, got some good news Monday.

  The only question is: How?

  After a fitful pre-conference season dotted by postponements, cancellations and – let’s face it, some pretty spotty basketball – the Pac-12 fared surprisingly well in the NCAA’s first NET rankings released Monday. Remember, those are the metrics-driven numbers that the NCAA basketball committee is now using in place of the old RPI computer ratings.

  Up pops Colorado at No. 14, followed by Oregon in 19th, Arizona in 21st and Southern Cal at No. 26. Throw in UCLA at 54 and Stanford at 55, and this represents a healthy showing by Larry Scott’s whipping-boy conference, which sank further out of the public favor with two poor showings in its only football bowl appearances over the holidays.

  The NET, it appears, is looking kindly upon the Pac-12, more kindly than the evidence would have suggested. For this is one of those pre-conferences when the league didn’t seem to get a lot done in its pursuit of a resume that will reflect well for that all-Indiana March Madness the NCAA unveiled Monday.

  These are the league’s best wins: Over No. 36 Alabama (by Stanford); over No. 44 Seton Hall (by Oregon) and over No. 52 Brigham Young (by USC).

  What no doubt aided the Pac-12 was (a) a relative absence of devastating losses to ne’er-do-wells in the rankings, and (b) a reasonable smattering of games – albeit losses — against big-time opposition, like Indiana, North Carolina, Baylor and San Diego State.

  It needs to be noted that the early NET rankings are notoriously fluid. So don’t expect Colgate, which has split two games, to remain at No. 16. The Raiders have evidently impressed the NET-minders with a 44-point victory over Army, and a two-point loss to the Black Knights.

  While the Pac-12 gets high marks from the NET, it didn’t fare so well with Andy Katz, who last week voiced a ranking of the top 10 conferences for Katz put the Pac-12 seventh – one spot below the West Coast Conference. If memory serves, while the WCC has nosed into the nation’s top 10 in its best years, it has never rated as well as a No. 6 ranking.

  It’s a debatable issue. The Pac-10 has a 7-3 record against the WCC this year – everything from USC’s 26-point thrashing of BYU to Oregon State’s overtime loss to lowly Portland.

  But the WCC has far more high-end victories than the Pac-12, led by top-ranked Gonzaga’s conquests of Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa and Virginia. Throw in San Francisco’s win over Virginia and a 10-point win by BYU over San Diego State, and the WCC has achieved a lot more attention-grabbing results nationally than the Pac-12.