KJ Simpson, Colorado Buffaloes, Pac-12 basketball

Drew VonScio provides his Pac-12 basketball power rankings in week 3 of the college basketball season.


Matchup of the Week: Arizona vs Michigan State

Sneaky Good Matchups of the Week: Marquette vs UCLA and Seton Hall vs USC

All games listed are EST.

1.Arizona Wildcats

Last Week’s Ranking: 1

Record: 5-0

Last Week: W vs. UT Arlington (101-56), W vs. Belmont (100-68), W vs. Southern (97-59)

Next Week: vs. Michigan State (Nov. 23 – 4 p.m.)

Quality Wins: Duke

Bad Losses: N/A

Even though Arizona cruised to a trio of victories against inferior opponents, the Wildcats are the best of the best in Pac-12 basketball. Arizona has scored at least 97 points in four of its first five games. When you can average just under 100 points through your opening five games, it shows you are a legitimate team and one that fans might be starting to pencil in as a legitimate contender for March Madness. This is one of the deepest teams in the country as well with four different players leading the team on a nightly basis in points, rebounds and assists.

2. Colorado Buffaloes

Last Week’s Ranking: 2

Record: 3-0

Last Week: W vs. Milwaukee (106-79)

Next Week: vs. Richmond (Nov. 20 – 8 p.m.), vs. Florida State OR UNLV (Nov. 21 – TBD), vs. Iona (Nov. 26 – 2 p.m.)

Quality Wins: N/A

Bad Losses: N/A

Colorado continues its strong start to the season with a comfortable win over Milwaukee by 27 points in the Sunshine Slam. KJ Simpson is putting this Buffaloes team on his back, posting two games with 20+ points and has led the team in its last two games in assists. This offense is right up there with Arizona, averaging 92 points per game and continuing to post 39 rebounds per game. Tristan da Silva is right there behind Simpson in scoring as Colorado shows its depth can compete with the top teams in the country and a team that will expect to see the winning continue well into December.

3. UCLA Bruins

Last Week’s Ranking: 5

Record: 3-0

Last Week: W vs. LIU (78-58)

Next Week: vs. Marquette (Nov. 20 – 11:30 p.m.), vs. Kansas OR Chaminade (Nov. 21 – TBD), vs. Tennessee/Syracuse/Purdue/Gonzaga (Nov. 22 – TBD)

Quality Wins: N/A

Bad Losses: N/A

UCLA moves up in the rankings largely due to USC and Utah struggling early on in non-conference games. Adem Bona posted a double-double in the 20-point win over LIU, but the Bruins are fantastic in taking care of the basketball with just over nine turnovers per game while supplementing it with 34 rebounds per game. Sebastian Mack and Dylan Andrews are providing supplemental depth behind Bona for the Bruins. The Maui Invitational is going to be a gauntlet and will show just how good this UCLA team is going to be this year. Even after the game against Marquette, the schedule doesn’t get much easier unless a matchup with Chaminade falls into place.

4. USC Trojans

Last Week’s Ranking: 2

Record: 3-1

Last Week: L vs. UC Irvine (70-60), W vs. Brown (81-70)

Next Week: vs. Seton Hall (Nov. 23 – 5:30 p.m.), vs Iowa OR Oklahoma (Nov. 24 – TBD)

Quality Wins: Kansas State

Bad Losses: UC Irvine

The Trojans took a bit of a fall this week after the loss against UC Irvine. Even though USC led the majority of the contest, the Anteaters found a way to score five three-pointers in the last three minutes. Boogie Ellis and Isaiah Collier led the way for the Trojans in the bounce back win over Brown where USC shot 50% from behind the arc, but the loss to UC Irvine is a huge blow. USC’s schedule doesn’t get easier this week in the Rady Children’s Invitational, so the aforementioned duo will have to step up against a very strong Seton Hall team to this point.

5. Oregon Ducks

Last Week’s Ranking: 6

Record: 3-0

Last Week: W vs. Tennessee State (92-67)

Next Week: vs. Florida A&M (Nov. 20 – 8 p.m.), vs. Santa Clara (Nov. 24 – 9:30 p.m.), vs. Alabama OR Ohio State (Nov. 25 – TBD)

Quality Wins: N/A

Bad Losses: N/A

Oregon took care of business once again this week against Tennessee State with five players in double digits for scoring. The Ducks also shot 53% from the field and produced 27 points off of 15 forced turnovers. On top of that, Oregon scored 50 of its 92 points in the paint, a statement of the front court play that this team brings to the table led by Kwame Evans Jr and Nate Bittle. The Ducks will have their first true test this week with three games in six days and will provide a glimpse of how strong this team can be.

6. Utah Utes

Last Week’s Ranking: 4

Record: 3-2

Last Week: W vs. Wake Forest (77-70), L vs. Houston (76-66), L vs. St. John’s (91-82)

Next Week: N/A

Quality Wins: N/A

Bad Losses: N/A

Utah was quickly humbled this week after starting off extremely well. The Utes found a way to get it done against a disappointing Wake Forest team before losing to Houston and St. John’s. Utah went toe-to-toe with Houston in the second half and showed improvement where Gabe Madsen posted 29 points, but it’s hard to look past St. John’s putting 52 points on the scoreboard in the first half of that matchup. Branden Carlson’s 22-point effort against Rick Pitino’s group wasn’t enough as the Utes appear to be a second-half team in the early stages of this season.

7. Washington Huskies

Last Week’s Ranking: 9

Record: 3-2

Last Week: W vs. Xavier (74-71), L vs. San Diego State (100-97)

Next Week: N/A

Quality Wins: Xavier

Bad Losses: N/A

Even though the Huskies now have two losses on the season, their performance at the Continental Tire Main Event in Vegas shows they made have been underrated last week. Washington trailed by seven at halftime against a strong Xavier group, but the duo of Keion Brooks Jr and Sahvir Wheeler combined for 38 points. The Huskies did well with their foul shots, the Musketeers did not. And that was the reason Washington advanced. This is a group that forced overtime against SDSU and shot even better than it did against Xavier, but the Aztecs were much more efficient from the free throw line. If Washington can figure things out defensively, it can move its way up the Pac-12 rankings rather quickly.

8. Washington State Cougars

Last Week’s Ranking: 8

Record: 3-1

Last Week: L vs. Mississippi State (76-64), W vs. Rhode Island (78-57)

Next Week: vs. Utah Tech (Nov. 24 – 4 p.m.)

Quality Wins: N/A

Bad Losses: N/A

Washington State showed its ability to bounce back quickly by taking care of Rhode Island after falling to Mississippi State. The Cougars defense hurt them in the loss against the Bulldogs, who had four players in double digits and outrebounded Washington State by 9. Only getting five points off the bench hurt the Cougars in that loss as well. Isaac Jones and Myles Rice continue to lead the way; Rice posted 21 against the Bulldogs while Jones produced 21 of his own against the Rams. The starting five for Washington State is strong, but the depth behind it is a question that remains to be answered.

9. Stanford Cardinal

Last Week’s Ranking: 7

Record: 3-1 (0-0)

Last Week: W vs. Eastern Washington (95-70), L vs. Santa Clara (89-77)

Next Week: vs. Arkansas (Nov. 22 – 7:30 p.m.), vs. Michigan OR Memphis (Nov. 23 – TBD), vs. North Carolina/UNI/Villanova/Texas Tech (Nov. 24 – TBD)

Quality Wins: N/A

Bad Losses: Santa Clara

This is a Stanford team that had an easy slate of games leading up to the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Cardinal allowed Santa Clara to post 45 points on them in the second half. When you allow Adama Bal and Carlos Marshall Jr to each score 20+ points, you aren’t setting yourself up for success. Stanford responded well in the matchup against Eastern Washington where it shot 54.8% from the field, but losing a buy game against Santa Clara is inexcusable.

10. Oregon State Beavers

Last Week’s Ranking: 11

Record: 3-1

Last Week: L vs. Nebraska (84-63), W vs. Appalachian State (81-71)

Next Week: vs. Baylor (Nov. 22 – 7 p.m.), vs. Pitt OR Florida (Nov. 24 – TBD)

Quality Wins: N/A

Bad Losses: N/A

Oregon State hasn’t been flashy by any means through four games, beating the teams it should be beating and then dropping its most recent matchup against Nebraska. Jordan Pope had a fantastic game for the Beavers in that loss with 25 points but aside from Tyler Bilodeau’s 15 points, there wasn’t much offensive production from Oregon State. This will be something the Beavers have to improve upon heading into the Preseason NIT tournament. If they can’t have supplemental scoring against strong teams, it will be a long season for Oregon State. The Beavers do shoot well at the free throw line, shooting 75% as a team to this point.

11. Arizona State Sun Devils

Last Week’s Ranking: 10

Record: 2-1

Last Week: W vs. UMass Lowell

Next Week: vs. BYU (Nov. 23 – 11:59 p.m.), vs. NC State OR Vanderbilt (Nov. 24 – TBD)

Quality Wins: N/A

Bad Losses: N/A

Choosing whether to have Arizona State at 10 or 11 was a matter of flipping a coin. Ultimately, the Sun Devils have a much weaker non-conference schedule to this point than Oregon State. UMass Lowell looked to be the much better team through the first 20 minutes of play, but Arizona State dropped 49 points in the second half. Jose Perez led the way with 20 points and could certainly be a short-term fix for the Sun Devils in his grad year from West Virginia. This group is strong when it comes to scoring off of turnovers as it posted 27 in that category last week.

12. California Golden Bears

Last Week’s Ranking: 12

Record: 2-2

Last Week: L vs. Montana State (63-60), W vs. CSU Bakersfield (83-63)

Next Week: vs. UTEP (Nov. 21 – 12:30 a.m.), vs. Bradley OR Tulane (Nov. 22 – TBD), vs. San Diego State (Nov. 25 – 7 p.m.)

Quality Wins: N/A

Bad Losses: N/A

California’s season has been a bit of a roller coaster to this point. The team looked like it was progressing after the 20-point win over CSU Bakersfield where Jalen Cone paced the Golden Bears with 23 points. The same team then looked bleak against Montana State aside from Jaylon Tyson scoring 27 of 60 points. Cal shot just 16.7% from three in that matchup, a statistic that largely made the difference. Growing pains like this one are to be expected all season long for the Golden Bears, but there are positive sights for Cal fans that the current state of the program won’t last forever.

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