The Washington Huskies have a great chance to double up on their Pacific-12 Conference football championship by following it up with a basketball title as well. As the league approaches the halfway mark of its schedule, the Huskies are two games clear of the field in the standings with a perfect 7-0 mark in Pac-12 play.
The Conference of (real NCAA) Champions needs a strong team to emerge from the glut of good teams to make the rest of the nation take notice that the league’s play is just as good as any other. Maybe Washington is that team for 2019.
In the meantime, remember the conference championship tournament is in Las Vegas again, so get your tickets here for March 13-16.
Weekly Pac-12 Rankings
We had some shakeup in the hierarchy this week, unlike last week. Many teams are still helped or hindered by their non-conference performance, since the league has played just seven league contests so far, on average. Every game played lessens the impact of those early-season results for the list below.
Here are the updated rankings, with last week’s position noted after the current record.
1. Washington Huskies (16-4, 1): Here is the weird thing about the Huskies’ season so far. They really don’t have a signature win, and all four of their losses were against pretty good teams away from Seattle. We still really do not know how good Washington is, and we may not know for awhile.
2. Oregon Ducks (12-8, 2): Losing at home by five to the Huskies had to be a moral victory for the Ducks, who are just hanging by a thread now. Oregon is just 3-4 in conference play, and the team has had time to adjust now to the loss of Bol Bol for the season. The defense is still solid, but the Ducks need an offensive surge right now.
3. Arizona State Sun Devils (14-6, 4): After coming within a bucket of sweeping the L.A. schools on the road, the Sun Devils have to feel confident heading into their home game against rival Arizona on Thursday night. There is an outside chance that ASU could win its next seven games. Will it happen? Probably not, but hey, the odds aren’t that bad.
4. Arizona Wildcats (14-7, 3): The Wildcats just took it on the chin in the City of Angels, losing to USC by 23 points and UCLA by 21 points, respectively. Ouch. Arizona has lost three of its last four, and now it has to travel to Tempe on Thursday to face a confident Sun Devils squad. Is this already a must-win situation for the Wildcats? Perhaps.
5. Oregon State Beavers (12-7, 5): The Beavers have also lost three of the last four, yet the prognostication for Oregon State is not that bad. The next four games are winnable if the Beavers can ride Tres Tinkle, frontrunner for Conference Player of the Year, to a road sweep this week of the mountain schools.
6. UCLA Bruins (11-9, 6): The Bruins broke a three-game slide with the big win over the Wildcats at home, and now UCLA goes on the road to face the northern-most schools in the conference. The Bruins probably cannot beat the Huskies in Seattle, but a split is definitely needed if UCLA wants to stay in the hunt for … the NIT?
7. USC Trojans (12-8, 8): Go figure that the Trojans are the closest team to the Huskies in the conference standings, with a 5-2 mark in Pac-12 play. They can reduce that to one game with a win in Seattle in Wednesday, but we are not betting on it happening. After Wednesday, though, the schedule softens for USC, so this is the chance for solidification.
8. Colorado Buffaloes (11-8, 7): The Buffs are in tenth place with a 2-5 league mark right now—and still propped up a bit by their soft non-conference schedule results. How they do hosting the Oregon schools this week will go a long way toward determining where Colorado ends up this season.
9. Utah Utes (11-8, 10): Here is another surprise—the Utes are tied with the Trojans for second place in the conference, but that tough non-league slate is still weighing Utah down in our rankings. The Utes have a good shot at winning the next six games, though, and if they can do that, there’s an outside chance they could crash the NCAA tourney.
10. Stanford Cardinal (10-10, 9): The Cardinal sit ninth in the conference standings right now, and the team is officially off the radar for postseason play, despite the current .500 record. Stanford would basically have to win the Pac-12 Tournament to get anywhere after the end of the league schedule.
11. Washington State Cougars (8-12, 11): The Cougars suffered two losses by 20-plus points on the road in Oregon, and the only league game left on the slate WSU might win is at California on March 2. However, the future could be bright if freshman CJ Elleby can improve and Head Coach Ernie Kent can build a team around him for 2021.
12. California Golden Bears (5-15, 12): With nine straight losses, it is necessary to note the closest of those defeats has been a nine-point margin. Perhaps the Golden Bears can use the next few days off to prep for the home game against Stanford on Sunday and pull off a season-making upset of the Cardinal. That would be sweet for Cal.
What to Watch For Next
Washington can start to put a stranglehold on the regular-season title with a win over USC at home on Wednesday. Utah can make a statement with a home victory over Oregon on Thursday. The league standings could look very different next Monday, depending on how these games play out this week.
Fearless Prediction(s) of the Week
We are going to back the Bears over the Cardinal on Sunday. Yes, we are. That’s all.
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