Just a third of the way through the conference schedule, and the Washington Huskies are looking strong in terms of adding the Pacific-12 Conference regular-season championship in basketball to their trophy case.
The Conference of (real NCAA) Champions is still up for grabs, with the Arizona Wildcats not too far behind the Huskies. Five other schools are lurking behind in third and four places, respectively, waiting to pounce if the Huskies or the Wildcats falter.
That’s what we call fun. We also call the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas fun, so get your tickets here for March 13-16.
Weekly Pac-12 Rankings
We actually did not move a single team up or down this week in the list below. However, look for change to come soon, as teams play more Pac-12 games against each other. The early-season results start to fade from consideration at that point.
Here are the updated rankings, with last week’s position noted after the current record.
1. Washington Huskies (14-4, 1): Winning big against Stanford and California is no big deal, especially at home. But that’s called “taking care of business” in this league. The Huskies face some mild adversity this upcoming week with a road trip to the Oregon schools. If Washington sweeps, the rest of the league better take note.
2. Oregon Ducks (11-7, 2): The Ducks are in eighth place right now among Pac-12 teams with a 2-3 conference record, but winning on the road in Arizona demonstrated that Oregon has not given up on the season despite the loss of its best player to injury. However, the Ducks stunk against Arizona State, so the team needs to work a little more on its consistency.
3. Arizona Wildcats (14-5, 3): The Wildcats shot just 36.5 percent from the floor in their stunning home loss to Oregon. That should not happen a lot to Arizona this year, especially in Tucson. The Wildcats now travel to Los Angeles this week for games at UCLA and USC, and it won’t be easy to win both.
4. Arizona State Sun Devils (13-5, 4): Just when you’re ready to count the Sun Devils out, they come back and surprise you. There is no rhyme or reason to this team’s performances. Sweeping the Oregon schools at home puts ASU right back in the thick of the conference race, which is when we now expect them to choke again. Right?
5. Oregon State Beavers (11-6, 5): The Beavers and the Sun Devils combined to shoot 23-of-42 from the free-throw line in their game last Thursday. Neither team deserved to win, but the loss for Oregon State had to be a severe disappointment. The Beavers need to make amends this week by beating the Huskies in Corvallis.
6. UCLA Bruins (10-8, 6): The Bruins have now lost two in a row after winning three straight, so we have no idea where they are headed next. Losing by double digits to USC on the road last weekend was just ugly. Now here come the Arizona schools for a visit to Pauley Pavilion. Lose both, and it’s going to be a long season for UCLA.
7. Colorado Buffaloes (10-7, 7): The Buffs dropped to 1-4 in conference with their road loss to Utah last weekend. The good news is that a road trip to the Bay Area is next, and Colorado should be able to beat Cal and possibly defeat Stanford as well. If the Buffaloes can build some momentum before they host the Oregon schools after that, it would be a good thing for them. Duh.
8. USC Trojans (10-8, 8): The Trojans have four losses to teams inside KenPom’s Top 28 this season, and if they’d replaced those tougher non-conference games with creampuffs, this team could be 14-4 and looking a lot better to the common eye. Hosting the Arizona schools this weekend is the perfect chance to prove that scheduling tough matters.
9. Stanford Cardinal (9-9, 9): There is nothing special about this Cardinal squad. It lost by double digits to Washington on the road, and then it beat Washington State by double digits on the road. Middle of the pack, all the way. Surprise, Stanford has a .500 record, too, this season so far. Take bets the Cardinal finish at .500?
10. Utah Utes (9-8, 10): With its win over Colorado, the Utah squad is giving itself a chance to have some relevance this season. A road trip to the Northern California schools can further demonstrate that the Utes are a force to take seriously this season. The next six games will reveal all.
11. Washington State Cougars (8-10, 11): With the expected win over California, the Cougars got off the conference floor. However, WSU could not sustain the momentum at home against Stanford on Saturday. Sure, there might be a surprise win somewhere down the road this season, but we would be surprised if the Cougars reached ten wins.
12. California Golden Bears (5-13, 12): The Golden Bears now have three straight homes games to prove they’re not the worst team in the Pac-12 Conference. If Cal wins one of those three games, it may have a chance at passing WSU in the league standings.
What to Watch For Next
The best games of the week should be in L.A. as the Wildcats and the Sun Devils travel to play the Bruins and the Trojans. We also are keeping an eye on the matchups between the Oregon schools and Washington. These should be the best six games of the week ahead.
Fearless Prediction(s) of the Week
Utah makes a statement this week with a road sweep of Cal and Stanford, while Arizona wins both games in Los Angeles to keep the pressure on the Huskies.
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