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The Bubble Debate: Oregon vs. Washington

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With Oregon finding it tournament hopes squarely on the bubble, ATQ will take a look at Oregon's resume compared to those of other bubble teams over the course of this week.

The bubble isn't the most fun place to be during conference tournament week. Sure, it beats where we've been the last few years, but there's a lot of chatter and anxiety about whether Oregon can get in and break its four year NCAA tournament drought. Normally, 22-8 and 13-5 in the Pac-12 is a lock. In 2007, Oregon had a worse conference record at 12-6, yet nabbed a three seed in the tourney. Shows what people think of the conference this season.

However, there is a big reason to put Oregon in a bit of a different class from the rest of the Pac-12 this season, and that reason is surefire Pac-12 first teamer Devoe Joseph. People point out the three non-conference games that the Ducks lost this year--at Vanderbilt, at BYU, and home vs. Virginia. In the Vanderbilt and BYU games, Joseph had not yet become eligible as a midseason transfer, and the Virginia game was only his third game. How much will the selection committee weigh those facts? The Ducks are obviously a far different team than they were even in January, but the quality games in conference haven't been there to prove it.

Lets take a look at the Ducks' resume:

RPI: 48

SOS: 88

Overall record: 22-8

Conference record: 13-5

Road Record: 7-5

Record vs. RPI Top 100 5-7

Best Win: vs. Washington (by 25)

Best Non-conference win: at Nebraska (RPI 151)

Bad Losses: vs. Oregon State

Oregon doesn't have the top of the line wins, but they do have a respectable record vs. the top 100, are tested on the road, and are playing really well to finish the season. Also, while they haven't any truly elite wins, they also haven't had any terrible losses, either, with the Oregon State loss being the only sub-100 loss to speak of. This is a team that had improved throughout the season, and is playing well at the right time. RPI isn't everything, but that top-40 RPI doesn't hurt, either.

Meanwhile, the conventional wisdom on Washington is that they are in as the regular season Pac-12 champs, finishing a game ahead of Oregon and Cal. But not all conference schedules are created equal. Washington missed playing two games with the Bay Area and Rocky Mountain schools, meaning they only had to play top-100 Cal, Stanford, and Colorado once each (losing to both CU and Cal), while getting the opportunity to fatten up on sub-100 UCLA (ha ha), and historically awful Arizona State and USC. Yes, Washington finished one game ahead of Oregon, but played a much easier conference schedule to do it.

Lets take a look at Washington's resume:

RPI: 55

SOS: 82

Overall record: 21-9

Conference record: 14-4

Road record: 6-5

Record vs. RPI top 100: 4-8

Best win: vs. Oregon

Best non-conference win: vs. UCSB (125)

Bad Losses: at UCLA

My point here isn't to say that Oregon's record is supremely better than Washington's. But I want to challenge the notion that UW is safe due to the misleading "Pac-12 Champions" label. They played an easier conference schedule than Oregon did, have fewer top 100 wins, a lower RPI, and no notable non-conference wins to speak of.

Makes you wonder why Washington's tourney status isn't a little more bubbly.

Tomorrow, we'll look at Oregon's resume vs. Northwestern