Statistics also don’t have anything nice to say about the Pac-12

By pretty much any measure, the Pac-12 is a sham, and any number of people have written about how poor the league is this year and how few tournament bids it should get.

With that as backdrop, this may seem like piling on.  But while it’s easy to point to the league’s mediocre 80-52 non-conference record and losses to teams like Idaho, UC Riverside, Northern Arizona, and Montana State, it’s important to see whether advanced stats validate the prevailing opinion that the league is essentially a glorified mid-major. 

In short, they do. 

Here are 10 stats that confirm everything you’ve heard about the Pac-12’s ineptitude is true. (Note: I would have given 12 so it averages out to one for each team, but quite frankly, they don’t deserve it.)

96.3 – Percent of USC’s minutes that Maurice Jones has played.  The Trojans are woefully undermanned, which has forced the 5-foot-7 Jones to sit out practices in order to be able to log 40 minutes virtually every night.  He’s also the only player on the team with an assist rate over 15.0.  USC is just 5-7 so far, and not so coincidentally they ranked 139th or lower in each of the four factors on offense.

83.3 – Arizona freshman Josiah Turner’s ORtg.  While it’s not uncommon for freshmen to struggle (which Turner has both on and off the floor), the fact that he has the highest usage rate on the team isn’t particularly reassuring.  That said, if he can start to figure things out, the Wildcats have the talent to win the league.

36.2 – Washington freshman Tony Wroten’s usage rate, which ranks second in the country.  It’s great that the freshman isn’t timid, but perhaps discretion is the better part of valor given his 92.6 ORtg.  The quandary for Wroten is that he excels at getting to the line (7.9 fouls drawn per 40 minutes), but he stinks when he gets there (51.4 FT%). While Washington’s record is ugly, their only “bad” loss came last weekend against South Dakota State…at home.

28.5Oregon’s OReb%, which ranks 280th in the country.  I actually wanted to point out that six of the players in Oregon’s rotation have sub-100 ORtg’s, but I had already planned to use six for something else.  Regardless, the Ducks were a trendy pick as a sleeper, but top freshman Jabari Brown has left the program and transfers Tony Woods and Olu Ashaolu have combined to score just 15.1 points per game. 

25.8Arizona State’s turnover rate.  You maybe be surprised to know that it’s difficult to win when you turn the ball over one out of every four times you get it.  On the positive side, Ruslan Pateev is giving Yancy Gates a run for his money in the “Sucker Punch of the Year” category after hitting Southern Mississippi’s Torye Pelham in the back of the head.


7.7 – Fouls committed per 40 minutes by Josh Smith.  The UCLA big man has enough trouble logging extended minutes due to his lack of conditioning, but he also can’t stay out of foul trouble.  He ranks eighth in OReb%, 20th in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, and 43rd in block percentage, so the talent is there.  Unfortunately he’s wasting it.

6 – The number of Pac-12 teams whose defensive turnover rates are among the 50 worst in the nation.  Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah, and Washington are proving that defense is optional in the league this season.  Sadly two of those teams are expected to challenge for the regular season title.

4 – Number of players on Stanford with turnover rates over 25, including two of their top three assist men.  So while the Cardinal may seem to be essentially the only pleasant surprise in the league, I’m not sure how sustainable their success is.  Actually, after that stat about how poor half the league is at forcing turnovers, maybe it doesn’t matter.

1.17 – Points per possession scored by Utah’s opponents this year.  The Utes are simply abysmal on both ends of the floor.  On defense, they rank 324th in TO% and 326th in eFG%.  They are nearly as bad offensively, ranking 201st or lower in three of the four factors with just one player posting an ORtg over 97.3.  Pomeroy gives them an 18% chance of going winless the rest of the way, which actually seems low.

1 – Wins against teams in Pomeroy’s Top 50.  The lone victory came when Oregon State knocked off Texas on a neutral floor.  The league has just 12 other wins against the Top 100 with half of those victories coming against teams ranked between 92 and 100.

Follow me on Twitter (@AndyBottoms) for more of my thoughts on college basketball.