February’s arrival marks the start of the stretch run across college basketball and a make-or-break month for a quartet of Pac-12 teams.

The mediocre conference has twice as many NCAA bubble-sitters as it does locks for at-large berths:

— UCLA and Arizona are safely in the 68-team field and are playing for seed.

— Arizona State, USC, Utah and Oregon are playing for bids.

The selection process doesn’t take conference affiliation into account; there is no limit to the number of slots for the Pac-12. But the bubble teams will pummel each other in head-to-head meetings, thereby capping the amount of momentum available.

The conference will be fortunate to get two of the four into the NCAAs.

Some notable comparative metrics and rankings for your analysis …

*** NET rankings

No. 50: Utah
No. 55: USC
No. 58: Oregon
No. 64: ASU

*** Record in Quad I (highest level) games:

ASU: 3-3
USC: 2-4
Utah: 2-4
Oregon: 2-5

*** Pomeroy efficiency ratings

No. 42: USC
No. 47: Utah
No. 55: Oregon
No. 66: ASU

*** Pomeroy non-conference schedule strength

No. 44: Oregon
No. 145: USC
No. 173: ASU
No. 314: Utah

*** Remaining intra-bubble games

ASU: vs. Oregon, vs. Utah, at USC
Oregon: at ASU, vs. USC
USC: at Oregon, at Utah, vs. ASU
Utah: at ASU, vs. USC

Our view: USC and Oregon are best positioned to land on the right side of the bubble, while Utah has the toughest road. The selection committee won’t take kindly to the Utes’ schedule.

Then again, we have repeatedly failed to get a proper handle on the Pac-12. Inconsistent teams and wild variances in results are the marks of a mediocre conference — a conference that can claim just two NCAA Tournament locks as the stretch run arrives.

(NET rankings through Monday)

1. UCLA (17-4/8-2)

Last week: 1
Results: lost at USC 77-64
Next up: vs. Washington (Thursday)
NET ranking: 5
Comment: If a slump is unavoidable, this is the best time of year to experience it. We give the Bruins until the third week of February to recapture their groove.

2. Arizona (19-3/8-3)

Last week: 2
Results: won at WSU 63-58 and Washington 95-72
Next up: vs. Oregon (Thursday)
NET ranking: 10
Comment: The Wildcats are faring slightly better with voters than computers at the moment. They are No. 5 in the AP poll but 10th in the NET and 12th in the Pomeroy efficiency ratings.

3. USC (15-6/7-3)

Last week: 3
Results: beat UCLA 77-64
Next up: vs. Washington State (Thursday)
NET ranking: 55
Comment: Boogie Ellis has topped the 25-point mark four times this season, against BYU, Auburn, Washington and UCLA. Not surprisingly, the Trojans won all four.

4. Oregon (13-9/7-4)

Last week: 7
Results: beat Colorado 72-65 and Utah 68-56
Next up: at Arizona (Thursday)
NET ranking: 58
Comment: February has typically been Dana Altman Month in the Pac-12. We’ll see if his players know the history — and can repeat it.

5. Utah (15-8/8-4)

Last week: 4
Results: won at Oregon State 63-44, lost at Oregon 68-56
Next up: vs. Stanford (Thursday)
NET ranking: 50
Comment: We are hereby declaring Craig Smith’s second season a rip-roaring success, regardless of what happens the rest of the way.

6. Arizona State (15-7/6-5)

Last week: 5
Results: lost at Washington 69-66 (OT) and WSU 75-58
Next up: vs. Oregon State (Thursday)
NET ranking: 64
Comment: The Sun Devils have lost four in a row and finish with Arizona and the L.A. schools on the road, which makes sweeping the next six essential.


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