This is part of a series of posts going up on December 26. Let's look back at everyone's performance in the non-conference schedule and take inventory on where everyone is at.
This is your standard configuration power conference. One title contender, a couple teams in the second tier, a nice group of bubble teams, and a couple lightweights. It's remarkable how ordinary the conference makeup is.
Arizona (12-1) is your title contender. Losing at UNLV might be a red alarm, and a non-con SoS around 125 is another possible red alarm. Beating N-SDSU and Gonzaga should build equity, though, and winning the Pac-12 will likely get them to the 1 line. At least they played 2 road games in the non-con, and that counts as progress, apparently.
Utah (9-2) has emerged as the #2 team. When your worst loss is @SDSU, you're doing just fine, and they've got hammers of Wichita St and N-BYU to wield. Top 30 non-con SoS to boot. This is a fine resume.
Washington (11-0) has merely an average SoS, but at least they're winning those games. SDSU, N-Oklahoma, N-UTEP...there's some value in those, at least. They'll need to spruce up the resume to really move up in seeding, but they're in good position.
Now, we get to the fun part. I could 4 teams that I would consider serious bubble contenders. Let's bullet point them, 2 on the good side.
California (10-2) has a decent SoS, two losses to top 10 teams (Wisky, N-Texas), but N-Syracuse is the signature win.
Stanford (7-3) has a decent SoS, one bad loss (@DePaul), but a win at Texas offsets that nicely.
UCLA (8-4) has a solid SoS and all their losses are to clear tournament teams. Can't ding them one bit for the losses. Also can't find a signature win yet, however.
Colorado (7-5) has issues. Good but not great non-con SoS, a plurality of losses (@Hawaii and @Wyoming are the dubious ones), no good wins. 5 R/N games might help their argument, but they're in big trouble.
Bottom line, I think we've identified 5 solid teams, a 6th team (UCLA) that should be fine, and a 7th lurking in the background. Let's deal with the bottom 5 quickly. I doubt any of them make a run, but there's a chance.
Oregon (8-3) has a marginal SoS, a decent win of N-Illinois, and a couple marginal losses (N-Michigan, Ole Miss). Arizona St (7-5) has SoS issues and marginal losses. Oregon St (7-3) has bigtime SoS issues and marginal losses. USC (7-4) has (guess!) SoS issues and marginal losses. Washington St (5-6) is just legitimately not good. I suppose I could separate oregon from the rest of these teams, but I'll be shocked if any of them makes a run.