Pac-12 basketball this week: With close games, P in Pac means parity

More than 40% of league losses by 5 or fewer points
2013-02-20T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T12:15:24Z Pac-12 basketball this week: With close games, P in Pac means parityPatrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

In the course of an 82-game NBA regular season, it's easy to see what plays teams like to run at the end of games, when they're desperate for points.

College basketball typically offers no such luxury.

Until this year.

"You've seen so many close games (in the Pac-12)," Utah coach and former NBA boss Larry Krystkowiak said, "that you do kinda see some of the other people's secrets, that you like to keep a little closer to your vest."

In league play, the competitiveness has been staggering.

This year, 33 of 78 Pac-12 games - a whopping 42.3 percent - have been decided by 5 or fewer points.

Another 14 have been decided by 9 or fewer points.

"We certainly have played a lot of closer games," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "It seems like every game we've played in the conference, with rare exception, has come down to the end."

In league play, 10 of 12 teams' average margin is 4.3 points or fewer.

Utah and Washington State, the two outliers, average a 6.5- and 5.5-point loss, respectively.

"It's incredible," UCLA coach Ben Howland said, "that it's such a minute number that separates winning and losing."

Each team in the conference has played 13 games. Arizona State, Oregon and USC have played 10 games decided by single digits. Another three - Colorado, Utah and Washington State - have played nine.

Close games are becoming the "rule, rather than the exception" nationally, Sendek said.

"There's a lot of parity," he said. "It's important to a lot of people."

Krystkowiak said road performance best encapsulates Pac-12 parity this year.

Home teams have won only 56.4 percent of league contests. More telling, though, is how teams have done during their three separate two-game road trips in Pac-12 play.

Oregon has swept two trips.

Colorado, UCLA, Washington and the UA each swept one road trip.

ASU and Cal have split all three, while Stanford, UCLA, USC and Arizona have split two trips apiece.

"I know there are splits every time you turn around," the Utah coach said. "The parity within our league is probably, kinda, like none other in conferences."

He's right.

Pac-12 road teams have won 44 percent of their league games, as of Tuesday. Of the five other major conferences, none comes closer than the Big East's 42 percent. The Big 12 is the lowest, at 33 percent.

Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said "there are a lot of teams that are capable of beating other teams" every night.

That doesn't figure to change in the last three weeks of the season.

"It really doesn't matter if you're home or away," Robinson said. "It feels like every single game you play, you have a chance to win."

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