There’s still a lot to be learned and decided as most teams approach the midway point of the Pac-12 men’s basketball schedule.
Are UCLA and Arizona truly worth of being 2 seeds (or better) in the NCAA tournament? Both will be challenged on the road this week.
Do USC and Arizona State, despite middling NET rankings, have what it takes to finish strong in the second half of conference play and make a serious run at March Madness?
Will the real Oregon and Utah squads please stand up? Will any of the rest make the postseason of any kind once the conference tournament is finished?
Can Wayne Tinkle and his staff find a way to turn the corner before the season is over and make Oregon State a consistently competitive team?
All of the above will be answered in the next six-plus weeks. If the results so far as any indication, nothing is a sure thing.
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Here are this week’s Pac-12 power rankings.
1. UCLA 17-3, 8-1 Pac-12 (Last week's ranking: 1)
Last week’s results: 74-62 win at Arizona State; 58-52 loss at Arizona
This week’s games: At USC, Thursday
The No. 8 Bruins weren’t going to win out, so it only made sense that a two-month-long winning streak would end in the conference’s toughest environment. It’s likely only one Pac-12 team can grab an NCAA No. 1 seed and UCLA looks to have the best shot.
2. ARIZONA 17-3, 6-3 (4)
Last week’s results: 81-66 home win vs. USC; 58-52 home win vs. UCLA
This week’s games: At Washington State, Thursday; at Washington, Saturday
The sixth-ranked Wildcats sent a little reminder that they haven’t disappeared despite some stumbles along the way. It’s a wide-open race for conference player of the year, with UA forward Azuolas Tubelis among the favorites.
3. USC 14-6, 6-3 (3)
Last week’s results: 81-66 loss at Arizona; 77-69 win at Arizona State
This week’s games: Home vs. UCLA, Thursday
With a 62 NCAA NET ranking as of Tuesday, the Trojans are on the outside looking in as far as the NCAA bubble goes. A win against the Bruins would go a long way toward changing that.
4. ARIZONA STATE 15-5, 6-3 (2)
Last week’s results: 74-62 home loss to UCLA; 77-69 home loss to USC
This week’s games: At Washington, Thursday; at Washington State, Saturday
Here’s another team that still needs some quality wins after a disappointing week. The Sun Devils (NET: 55) could help themselves by avoiding any losses to teams in the bottom half of the standings.
5. UTAH 14-7, 7-3 (8)
Last week’s results: 77-63 home win vs. Washington State; 86-61 home win vs. Washington
This week’s games: At Oregon State, Thursday; at Oregon, Saturday
The Utes (NET: 48) are one extended winning streak from being in NCAA contention. But outside the Dec. 1 home win against Arizona, they haven’t shown they can hang with the big boys.
6. COLORADO 12-9, 4-6 (7)
Last week’s results: 75-72 home loss to Washington; 58-55 home win vs. Washington State
This week’s games: At Oregon, Thursday; at Oregon State, Saturday
The Buffaloes are one of those teams that could literally beat anybody or lose to anybody in the country. But with two losses to Washington, they can only hope for a wild ride in Vegas, like the program produced in 2012 with four wins in four days as the 6 seed.
7. OREGON 11-9, 5-4 (6)
Last week’s results: 87-58 win at California; 71-64 loss at Stanford
This week’s games: Home vs. Colorado, Thursday; home vs. Utah, Saturday
Dana Altman’s ability to reconstruct an NCAA tournament roster every season appear to have hit a roadblock with the Ducks headed for a second straight miss of March Madness. Still, lots of talent, not enough chemistry.
8. WASHINGTON 12-9, 4-6 (9)
Last week’s results: 75-72 win at Colorado; 86-61 loss at Utah
This week’s games: Home vs. Arizona State, Thursday; home vs. Arizona, Saturday
The Huskies got one of the Pac-12’s best road wins of the season in Boulder for a third straight win. But not much consistency, and now they head into a four-game stretch with the Arizonas and L.A. schools.
9. WASHINGTON STATE 9-12, 4-6 (5)
Last week’s results: 77-63 loss at Utah; 58-55 loss at Colorado
This week’s games: Home vs. Arizona, Thursday; home vs. Arizona State, Saturday
This is a team that won at Arizona, beat USC in Pullman and should have knocked off UCLA. But the Cougars have proven they’re more likely to ruin someone else’s season than make a run at the postseason.
10. STANFORD 7-12, 2-7 (12)
Last week’s results: 67-46 home win vs. Oregon State; 71-64 home win vs. Oregon
This week’s games: Home vs. Chicago State, Wednesday; home vs. California, Saturday
The Cardinal rose from the ashes after losing so many close games. Stanford has the roster to generate those unexpected wins.
11. OREGON STATE 8-12, 2-7 (11)
Last week’s results: 67-46 loss at Stanford; 68-48 win at California
This week’s games: Home vs. Utah, Thursday; home vs. Colorado, Saturday
The Beavers return home to face two teams that most squads during Tinkle’s tenure would muster enough to get a split against. Either OSU turns its season around this week or it doesn’t.
12. CALIFORNIA 3-17, 2-7 (10)
Last week’s results: 87-58 home loss to Oregon; 68-48 home loss to Oregon State
This week’s games: At Stanford, Saturday
It’s hard to believe that this Golden Bears team finished a stretch of three wins in four games earlier this month, including a 22-point victory against Stanford. Cal has shot a combined 36.6% in four straight losses.