Joe Jackson gives his Pac-12 basketball power rankings for week 9 of the season.
Matchup of the week: USC @ UCLA (Jan. 5)
Sneaky good matchup of the week: Washington @ Arizona (Jan. 5)
All times listed are EST.
1) Arizona Wildcats
Last week’s ranking: 1 (-)
Record: 13-1 (2-1)
Last Week: @ Arizona State (W) 69-60
Next Week: Washington (Jan. 5 – 11:00 p.m.), Washington State (Jan. 7 – 5:00 p.m.)
Best Wins: Tennessee, Indiana, Creighton, San Diego State, @ Arizona State
Worst Losses: @ Utah
Arizona took care of winter break by winning two buy games, and then getting a road victory at Arizona State to resume Pac-12 play. Their only blemish thus far is a road loss to Utah, but aside from that game, they have looked like a top 5 team in the country.
2) UCLA Bruins
Last week’s ranking: 2 (-)
Record: 13-2 (4-0)
Last week: @ Washington State (W) 67-66, @ Washington (W) 74-49
Next week: USC (Jan. 5 – 9:30 p.m.)
Best wins: @ Maryland, Kentucky, Oregon
Worst losses: N/A
UCLA resumed Pac-12 play with two road wins against feisty teams. After barely squeaking out a win against Washington State, UCLA looked like one of the best teams in the country against Washington. With their play so far, the Pac-12 very much seems like a two team race between Arizona and UCLA.
3) Arizona State Sun Devils
Last week’s ranking: 3 (-)
Record: 11-3 (2-1)
Last Week: Arizona (L) 69-60
Next Week: Washington State (Jan. 5 – 8:00 p.m.), Washington (Jan. 8 – 5:00 p.m.)
Best Wins: Creighton, Michigan, Colorado
Worst Losses: Texas Southern, @ San Francisco
Arizona State came back to earth a bit by getting blitzed at San Francisco, a tough mid major team. They got out to a very slow start against Arizona and were not able to climb back enough to get the win. Although losing their last two, the Sun Devils have put themselves in a nice position to be successful in Pac-12 play.
4) USC Trojans
Last week’s ranking: 4 (-)
Record: 11-4 (3-1)
Last week: @ Washington (W) 80-67, @ Washington State (L) 81-71
Next week: @ UCLA (Jan. 5 – 9:30 p.m.)
Best Wins: Auburn, BYU, Vermont
Worst Losses: Florida Gulf Coast
When USC plays at their best, I think they have the talent to compete with Arizona and UCLA. The issue is that they do not play at their best often enough. Heading into the new year, they only have two wins over top 100 Kenpom teams. They have a tough stretch of Pac-12 games over the next few weeks that should tell whether this team is legit or not.
5) Utah Utes
Last week’s ranking: 5 (-)
Record: 11-4 (4-0)
Last Week: @ California (W) 58-43, @ Stanford (W) 71-66
Next Week: Oregon State (Jan. 5 – 10:00 p.m.), Oregon (Jan. 7 – 7:00 p.m.)
Best Wins: Arizona, Washington State, @ Stanford
Worst Losses: Sam Houston State, @ BYU
After being projected to be near the bottom of the Pac-12 at the beginning of the season, Utah heads into the new year at 11-4 overall and a perfect 4-0 in conference play. They will have two winnable games this week to try and get to 6-0. They have set themselves up to try and get a bid into the tournament if they are able to have a very strong Pac-12 season.
6) Oregon Ducks
Last week’s ranking: 6 (-)
Record: 8-6 (2-1)
Last Week: Oregon State (W) 77-68
Next Week: @ Colorado (Jan. 5 – 9:00 p.m.), @ Utah (Jan. 7 – 7:00 p.m.)
Best Wins: Villanova, Washington State, Nevada
Worst Losses: UC Irvine, Utah Valley
Oregon needs to turn it around quickly if they want a chance of making the tourney. They had an ok non conference at best, highlighted by losses to UC Irvine and Utah Valley. They will need to have a very strong Pac-12 season, but I think that their length can cause teams issues. It is just a matter of playing well enough for it to matter.
7) Washington Huskies
Last week’s ranking: 7 (-)
Record: 9-6 (1-1)
Last week: USC (L) 80-67, UCLA (L) 74-49
Next week: @ Arizona (Jan. 5 – 11:00 p.m.), @ Arizona State (Jan. 8 – 5:00 p.m.)
Best wins: Colorado, Saint Mary’s, Fresno State
Worst Losses: Cal Baptist, @ Oregon State
Washington is on a 3 game losing streak, and they have two tough games coming up on the road against both teams in Arizona. They have really struggled on offense, not being able to get many shots to go. Keion Brooks has had a solid season, but Washington seems to not have enough to be able to really elevate into that next tier.
8) Colorado Buffaloes
Last week’s ranking: 8 (-)
Record: 9-6 (1-3)
Last Week: @ Stanford (W) 73-70, @ California (L) 80-76
Next Week: Oregon (Jan. 5 – 9:00 p.m.), Oregon State (Jan. 7 – 9:30 p.m.)
Best Wins: Tennessee, Texas A&M, Yale
Worst Losses: @ Grambling State, UMass, @ California
Colorado is one of the more up and down teams in the conference. After picking up a decent win at Stanford, they will have one of the worst losses in the conference by losing at California. They have talent to be ranked much higher than this, but they have not been able to consistently put it together.
9) Washington State Cougars
Last week’s ranking: 9 (-)
Record: 6-9 (1-3)
Last week: UCLA (L) 67-66, USC (W) 81-71
Next week: @ Arizona State (Jan. 5 – 8:00 p.m.), @ Arizona (Jan. 7 – 5:00 p.m.)
Best wins: USC, Texas State, Detroit Mercy
Worst Losses: Prairie View A&M, @ Hawaii
Washington State may be slightly better than their record indicates. They come off their best week of the season, losing to UCLA by 1 and beating USC by 10. They had a real chance to knock off UCLA. This teams seems to be maybe turning a corner, and will be interesting to see who near the top of the Pac-12 they can knock off throughout the season.
10) Stanford Cardinal
Last week’s ranking: 10 (-)
Record: 5-9 (0-4)
Last week: Colorado (L) 73-70, Utah (L) 71-66
Next week: @ California (Jan. 6 – 9:00 p.m.)
Best wins: Florida State, Cal Poly, Pacific
Worst Losses: N/A
Stanford continues their streak, by still not having a win against a top 150 Kenpom team, but not losing to anybody ranked lower. There is currently only one team in the Pac-12 without a win, the Stanford Cardinal. They have two games this week that are basically must win if they want a chance to turn their Pac-12 season around.
11) Oregon State Beavers
Last week’s ranking: 11 (-)
Record: 7-7 (1-2)
Last week: @ Oregon (L) 77-68
Next week: @ Utah (Jan. 5 -10:00 p.m.), @ Colorado (Jan. 7 – 9:30 p.m.)
Best wins: Washington, Seattle, Tulsa
Worst Losses: Portland State (x2)
Oregon State is not the worst team in the Pac-12, but they will not be anywhere near the top of the standings. Aside from 2 losses to Portland State, they did not have any really surprising outcomes from the first two month. Now with Pac-12 play, it will be interesting to see how many wins they are able to get.
12) California Golden Bears
Last week’s ranking: 12 (-)
Record: 2-13 (1-3)
Last week: Utah (L) 58-43, Colorado (W) 80-76
Next week: Stanford (Jan. 6 – 9:00 p.m.)
Best wins: Colorado, UT Arlington
Worst losses: UC San Diego, Southern, Eastern Washington, UC Davis, Texas State
They did it! Not only did California pick up a non conference win, but they also picked up a conference win. Pac-12 play is going to be a struggle for them, but I am happy to see them get a win early in the conference season.