Nine Pac-12 football teams in bowl games. How about seven basketball teams in the NCAA tournament?

It's not out of the question.

Two years removed from receiving only two NCAA bids for the second time in a span of three seasons, Pac-12 basketball is back.

Arizona is ranked No. 1, Oregon is unbeaten, and four other teams will head into conference play with double-digit victories. The league never has gotten more than six NCAA bids in a season.

But the Pac-12 has an early season computer RPI rank of No. 3, aided by league wins over Duke, Kansas, Connecticut and Michigan.

Here's a look at how Bay Area men's and women's teams fit into their conference picture, with an assist from Bay Area News Group writers Elliott Almond and Stephanie Hammon:

Pac-12 men

For Stanford and Cal, postseason footing remains uncertain. The Cardinal (8-3) scored a huge road victory over unbeaten Connecticut, but it struck out in three other marquee chances.

Depth is becoming a factor for Stanford, which will play the rest of the season without senior guard Aaron Bright (shoulder). Against Michigan, UConn and Pitt, the Cardinal's reserves contributed a total of 14 points in 105 minutes.

Cal (8-4) beat Arkansas to open the Maui Invitational, but it has struggled to stay healthy and take advantage of subsequent opportunities. Richard Solomon (scratched eye) missed the final two games in Maui (both losses) and guards Jabari Bird (sprained ankle) and Ricky Kreklow (broken hand) currently are on the shelf.

One of these teams will get a leg up on Jan. 2 when they collide in the Pac-12 opener at Maples Pavilion.

  • One more thing: Arizona owes its No. 1 ranking to a huge boost from two former Bay Area prep stars, freshman Aaron Gordon (12.5 points, 7.6 rebounds) and sophomore Brandon Ashley (12.5 points and 7.0).

  • Jeff Faraudo's picks: Pac-12 champion -- Arizona. Stanford -- Sixth. Cal -- Seventh.

    Pac-12 women

    Cal made history last season by earning a share of the conference title with perennial champion Stanford, then advancing through the NCAA tournament to its first-ever Final Four.

    Neither the 23rd-ranked Bears (7-3) nor anyone else will keep up with the No. 4 Cardinal (10-1) this year. Senior Chiney Ogwumike will see to that. A 32-point, 20-rebound performance in Stanford's 76-70 win over unbeaten Tennessee on Saturday adds fuel to the argument that Ogwumike may be the best player in school history.

  • One more thing: Cal's women were shooting an NCAA-worst 19.6 percent from the 3-point arc through eight games before making a school-record 11 (in 27 tries) against Cal State Bakersfield.

  • Elliott Almond's picks: Pac-12 champion -- Stanford. Cal -- Third (behind Colorado).

    WCC men

    Pacific, one of five charter members when the West Coast Conference was formed in 1952-53, returns to the league after a 43-year absence. The Tigers won the league crown in 1971 before exiting.

    Pacific should add to the WCC's upper-division depth. Coming off an NCAA tournament appearance in their final season in the Big West, the Tigers make the transition under first-year coach Ron Verlin, a long-time assistant to Bob Thomason, who retired last spring.

  • One more thing: Saint Mary's, currently playing in the Diamond Head Classic at Honolulu, begins an 11-day stretch on Monday at Pacific without coach Randy Bennett, who must serve a five-game NCAA suspension.

  • Jeff Faraudo's picks: WCC champion -- Gonzaga. Saint Mary's -- Second. USF -- Eighth. Santa Clara -- Ninth.

    WCC women

    Saint Mary's seniors Jackie Nared (21.8 points, 7.9 rebounds per game) and Danielle Mauldin (18.5, 13.7) started the season with a bang and haven't slowed down. In a season-opening win over Washington, the two combined for 60 points and 28 rebounds.

    The Gaels (10-1) dive into the deep end of the WCC schedule on Saturday when they open at home against perennial power Gonzaga. SMC beat the Bulldogs in Moraga last season for the first time since 2004.

  • One more thing: San Diego should be 13-0 when Saint Mary's visits on Jan. 2.

  • Stephanie Hammon's picks: Champion -- Gonzaga. Saint Mary's -- Second. USF -- Seventh. Santa Clara --Eighth.

    Mountain West men

    Lots of changes for the Spartans (5-6), who enter a new league with a new coach. Dave Wojcik's squad has received a nice lift from freshman Rashad Muhammad, who is averaging 17.2 points for the season and has made 57 percent of his 3-point attempts in the past six games.

    The road gets tougher beginning Jan. 1, when the Spartans open MWC play at home against Nevada.

  • One more thing: San Diego State's only setback was a 69-60 home defeat to No. 1 Arizona, snapping the Aztecs' nine-game win streak over Pac-12 teams in games played in California.

  • Jeff Faraudo's picks: Champion -- San Diego State. San Jose State -- Ninth.

    Mountain West women

    San Jose State, under first-year coach Jamie Craighead, enters conference play with a winning record (6-5) for the first time since 2004-05. The Spartans are averaging 84.4 points, on pace to eclipse the 35-year-old school record of 78.9. But their defense, allowing 90.5 points per game, ranks third-worst in the nation.

  • One more thing: There is no clear MWC favorite. San Diego State, which won last year's regular-season title, is 2-6. Fresno State, the league's NCAA tournament entry a year ago, is coming off a 29-point home loss to USF.

  • Elliott Almond's picks: Champion -- Wyoming. San Jose State -- Eighth.

    Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/JeffFaraudo.