The Pacific-12 Conference is seeing a resurgence in perception now that it is mid-February, despite all the naysayers suggesting the league was “down” in 2018-2019. As it stands today, the Pac-12 has eight teams in the Top 100 nationally, according to one influential expert. A ninth team is ranked 102nd.
The Conference of (real NCAA) Champions is stronger than people thought, as a preseason favorite—and defending league champ—is struggling in tenth place conference-wise. Who would have thought the Arizona Wildcats would be scraping the bottom of the league standings as March looms?
We don’t count out the defenders of the realm, though, and neither should you: The conference championship tournament is in Las Vegas again, and you can get your tickets here for March 13-16.
Weekly Pac-12 Rankings
The top teams remain static, and a lot of movement came in the middle of the pack this week. While the Washington Huskies retain their three-game lead in the conference standings, the Oregon State Beavers have pulled a half game ahead of Arizona State and Utah for sole possession of second place.
Here are the updated rankings, with last week’s position noted after the current record.
1. Washington Huskies (20-5, 1): Escaping with a two-point win on the road against Washington State in the Apple Cup, the Huskies reached twenty wins for the season season in a row. Washington needs to win out to improve its NCAA-seeding potential which right now is not very high (about a No. 9 slot).
2. Oregon Ducks (15-10, 2): Getting blown out on the road in the Civil War is never a good thing, as the Ducks continue to linger at the .500 mark in league play. If Oregon wants to make a push for March Madness, winning both games in Los Angeles this week would go a long way toward making that happen.
3. Arizona State Sun Devils (17-8, 3): The Sun Devils have lost four games this season by a combined 13 points. Imagine if Arizona State had won those four close contests. The team would probably be ranked in the Top 15, and the Sun Devils would be right on the Huskies’ heels in the Pac-12. Alas, closes defeats are still defeats.
4. Colorado Buffaloes (16-9, 4): Five straight victories have propelled the Buffs up the league standings, and now Colorado is 7-6 in Pac-12 play. The Buffaloes have a road trip to the Evergreen State this week before closing with three games at home in Boulder. Could Colorado make a late NCAA run if it finishes 11-7 in conference action?!
5. Oregon State Beavers (16-8, 7): The Beavers are kind of like the Sun Devils, with a lot of inconsistent play that has cost them much-needed wins. Five losses by less than four points per defeat on average better have taught Oregon State something as the final stretch of league play approaches. Beating the L.A. schools on the road is a must.
6. Arizona Wildcats (14-12, 5): It is tough to list a 5-8 team in conference action this high, but we cannot believe the Wildcats are this bad. Arizona has lost seven in a row somehow, and only four of those games have been in single digits. What happened to the Wildcats?! This team needs to win five straight to end the season, or … yeah.
7. USC Trojans (14-12, 8): The Trojans have lost twice in overtime this season, and they have three other defeats by a combined 11 points. That may be the conference’s big issue this year in terms of national perception. The Pac-12 squads are just not closing out close games at all in 2018-2019. All of USC’s final five contests are winnable, though.
8. UCLA Bruins (13-13, 6): Not sure what to say about the Bruins this week. Like the Trojans, they are capable of winning their last five. We just know they won’t do it, however. Close losses have not been the issue for UCLA this year, as the team has lost nine times by double digits. Ouch.
9. Stanford Cardinal (14-11, 10): The Cardinal dropped 104 points on the Bruins at Maples Pavilion on Saturday. Think about that for a moment. Stanford hits the road for two games in Arizona this week, and if it wants to climb higher in our rankings here, the wins have to come against good teams. Right?!
10. Utah Utes (14-11, 9): With an 8-5 conference mark, the Utes are playing tough in the Pac-12, at the expense of “better” teams. If Utah can reach 11 league wins and make a deep run in the conference tourney, who knows where the team will end up in the postseason? The Utes probably need to win the league tournament to get to the NCAAs.
11. Washington State Cougars (10-15, 11): How did the Cougs only lose by two to the Huskies on Saturday in Pullman? WSU had the lead inside two minutes, but it could not hold on. Hitting 43 percent of your threes and 93 percent of your free throws can give you that kind of chance, of course. But 19 turnovers? Doh!
12. California Golden Bears (5-20, 12): The losing streak has now reached 14 straight, and the next three games are all but guaranteed losses to Arizona (away), Arizona State (away), and Washington (home). Clearly, the boys in Berkeley are distracted by something. Why has Cal not fired Wyking Jones yet?!
What to Watch For Next
The Oregon teams travel to the City of Angels this week, and all four of those games should be quite fun to watch, considering what is at stake. It would not surprise us if each team went 1-1 in the whole quadrangle of hoops in Southern California.
Fearless Prediction(s) of the Week
We suspect the Cougars are ready to upset the Buffaloes on Wednesday night in Pullman. After all, Colorado can’t keep winning, can it?!
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