With Ken Pomeroy releasing his pre-season rankings on KenPom.com Sunday, we are able to take a look at matchup projections for each Pac-12 squad. Using Ken's win probabilities, I compiled a graph for each team which breaks down the likelihood that the given team will be undefeated after each of its games.
Games that have yet to be determined (mainly non-first round early season tournament games) are not included in the data. Teams are ordered by their preseason ranking.
Oregon faces a difficult four game stretch early on with Baylor, Valpariso, Georgetown and Boise State. A road matchup in Waco against the Baylor Bears will be a major test for the Pac-12 frontrunners. KenPom's projections give Oregon a 55% of coming out of the Baylor game with a victory. Oregon has the best chance to stay undefeated for the longest in the conference.
An opening night matchup against Michigan State significantly dents Arizona's probability of staying undefeated for an extended length. However, if the Wildcats can etch out a win against the Spartans, there's a realistic chance that Arizona won't lose another matchup until a showdown against Gonzaga on December 3.
UCLA has one of the most unique graphs in the graph. UCLA should be able to cruise through non-conference play, with an exception being a road matchup against a top 3 Kentucky Wildcats team in Lexington. If UCLA can pull out the upset against UK, this team might not lose until a December 28 road game in Eugene.
The largest obstacle for California in the early going is a road game in the valley against San Diego State. SDSU likely will be unranked at the time of tip-off, but Viejas Arena is one of the most hostile environments in the country. Very difficult place to win.
Colorado has an unbalanced non-conference slate that calls for cupcake matchups against Sacramento State, Seattle, Portland, Fort Hays State and Air Force, but also tournament contenders in Notre Dame, Xavier and BYU. Colorado has arguably the most underrated roster in the conference, and it can show its worth by knocking off the aforementioned teams early on.
Despite a challenging season ahead of Larry Kristkowiak and the Utes, Utah surprisingly has a non-conference schedule that its favored to win all but one game. KenPom.com projects Utah to knock off Butler at home, but the Utes are given a 20% win probability on the road against Xavier, a top 15 team in the country. Nevertheless, finishing the non-conference season with a single loss would be a great sign for last year's #3 seed.
A road matchup against Texas A&M in College Station derails USC's undefeated probability, with a 76.5% chance of winning its first two games to 19.1% after the conclusion of the Texas A&M game. If USC squeaks past A&M, the next test is against BYU on December 3.
This non-conference slate isn't all that difficult until facing Kentucky, UNLV, Purdue, New Mexico State and Creighton consecutively before a gimme that precedes conference play. I would venture to guess that Arizona State is in the cellar by the time league play begins.
If Stanford somehow escapes its first four games of the season with W's, there is absolutely no way Stanford can evade losses against Miami FL, Saint Mary's and Kansas. This is a demanding schedule for Stanford, which is ushering in a new head coach this year. Former UAB coach Jerod Haase has his work cut out for him.
Yale presents a tough matchup in the first game of the season - the Bulldogs upset Baylor in the round of 64 and return Makai Mason this year. Long Beach State, Western Kentucky, TCU, Gonzaga and Nevada is about as grueling of a stretch for a middling Power 5 team that you will find.
Three matchups against tournament hopefuls Nevada, Tulsa and Fresno State is enough to take Oregon State's undefeated probability from 83.9% to 12.3% at the conclusion of the Fresno State game. There's a realistic chance that OSU is under .500 at some point during non-conference play.
Welp, the Cougs should be able to go 2-0. A neutral matchup against Creighton, one of the trendiest sleepers this season, should put the first blemish on Wazzu's schedule. If not Creighton, maybe Kansas State on December 10.