Arizona appears to have a serious contender for the Pac-12 men’s basketball title as USC has hit its stride with four straight wins.
Those teams meet just once this season due to the unbalanced schedule. They don’t play until Feb. 10 in Tucson.
The Wildcats should get two good tests at home this week, and I’m sure they haven’t forgotten their loss at Colorado.
Here are my power rankings entering week five.
1. Arizona 16-4, 6-1 (Last week: 1)
Last week: 79-58 win at California; 73-71 win at Stanford
This week: home vs. Colorado, Thursday; home vs. Utah, Saturday
The Wildcats moved up three spots to 11th in the AP poll with the road sweep. It seems like the Arizona and mountain schools just played each other (three weeks ago), and here they are again.
2. USC 15-6, 6-2 (3)
Last week: 75-70 win at Oregon; 74-67 win at Oregon State
This week: home vs. Stanford, Wednesday; home vs. California, Sunday
The Trojans’ only misstep since Washington shot the lights out against them in the conference opener came on Daejon Davis’ half-court game-winner at Stanford. Wednesday’s home game with the Cardinal gets the conference week off to an interesting start.
3. Stanford 11-9, 5-2 (2)
Last week: 86-77 home win vs. Arizona State; 73-71 home loss to Arizona
This week: at USC, Wednesday; at UCLA, Saturday
It took a ranked team to stop the Cardinal’s five-game winning streak. Double-doubles by Michael Humphrey and Reid Travis weren’t enough as Stanford blew an 11-point lead in the last nine minutes.
4. Utah 12-7, 4-4 (10)
Last week: 70-62 home win vs. Washington; 92-69 home win vs. Washington State
This week: at Arizona State, Thursday; at Arizona, Saturday
Conference player of the week Justin Bibbins and the streaky Utes have won two or lost two every conference weekend. They play their next three on the road, going to Colorado next week.
5. Washington 14-6, 4-3 (6)
Last week: 70-67 loss at Utah; 72-62 win at Colorado
This week: home vs. Washington State, Sunday
The Huskies are 3-2 on the road in conference after the win in Boulder, joining Arizona and USC with three road wins. They get the Cougars before hosting the Arizona schools.
6. Oregon 13-7, 3-4 (5)
Last week: 75-70 home loss to USC; 94-91 home win vs. UCLA
This week: home vs. Oregon State, Saturday
The Ducks have split four games decided by seven points or less since losing in Corvallis. Sophomore guard and leading scorer Payton Pritchard is averaging 18.3 points, 52.2 percent shooting (44.4 on 3-pointers) and six assists since the Beavers held him to nine points on 3 of 10 from the floor.
7. Colorado 12-8, 4-4 (7)
Last week: 82-73 home win vs. Washington State; 72-62 home loss to Washington
This week: at Arizona, Thursday; at Arizona State, Saturday
The Buffaloes head to the desert knowing two teams there are set on revenge. They go into this weekend much as they did the last time around, without much momentum.
8. Arizona State 15-4, 3-4 (8)
Last week: 86-77 loss at Stanford; 81-73 win at California
This week: home vs. Utah, Thursday; home vs. Colorado, Saturday
I’m not sure how the defense-optional Sun Devils are still ranked, but they’re 21st in the AP poll (down five from last week). They can regain their footing with a home sweep.
9. Oregon State 11-8, 3-4 (9)
Last week: 69-62 home win vs. UCLA; 74-67 home loss to USC
This week: at Oregon, Saturday
The Beavers better figure out how to win on the road if they want to finish somewhere near .500 in Pac-12 play. They’ve got seven games away from Gill left on the schedule.
10. UCLA 13-7, 4-4 (4)
Last week: 69-63 loss at Oregon State; 94-91 loss at Oregon
This week: home vs. California, Thursday; home vs. Stanford, Saturday
The listless Bruins are on a three-game skid after starting 4-1. They lost both last weekend despite outshooting their opponents. Allowing 29 offensive boards might have been a factor.
11. Washington State 9-10, 1-6 (11)
Last week: 82-73 loss at Colorado; 82-69 loss at Utah
This week: at Washington, Sunday
The Cougars put up a good fight at home against Washington the first time around. The Beavers and Cougars are the only Pac-12 teams without a conference road win.
12. California 7-13, 1-6 (12)
Last week: 79-58 home loss to Arizona; 81-73 home loss to Arizona State
This week: at UCLA, Thursday; at USC, Sunday
The Bears were at least competitive against the Sun Devils after three blowout losses in four games. Cal is last in scoring offense and defense on Pac-12 contests.