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Who has to play on the opening day of the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament and who gets to start a day later, maybe see a little bit of Las Vegas?

That all becomes a little clearer this week, as each team has just three or four regular-season games left. The top four teams get byes in the tournament’s first round.

Second through eighth places in the current standings are separated by two games in the loss column. It will be an interesting week at the mountain schools, where three of those teams will be competing.

Here are my power rankings for week nine.

1. Arizona 21-6, 11-3 (Last week: 1)

Last week: 77-70 win at Arizona State

This week: at Oregon State, Thursday; at Oregon, Saturday

The 14th-ranked Wildcats secured their top seed in the conference tournament, barring a collapse down the stretch. It’s a shame Deandre Ayton is likely in Tucson for just one season.

2. UCLA 19-8, 10-5 (2)

Last week: 75-68 home win vs. Oregon State; 86-78 OT home win vs. Oregon

This week: at Utah, Thursday; at Colorado, Sunday

The Bruins kept themselves solidly on the NCAA bubble along with the Trojans, Utes and Huskies. Having won six of seven — with wins against Arizona and USC — can’t hurt UCLA’s chances.

3. USC 19-9, 10-5 (3)

Last week: 72-70 home win vs. Oregon; 72-59 home win vs. Oregon State

This week: at Colorado, Wednesday; at Utah, Saturday

Not counting the Pac-12 tournament, the Trojans have two more shots at wins against teams in the top half of the standings (Utah, UCLA) and might need them both to reach March Madness. A sweep this week would be a huge step forward.

4. Utah 17-9, 9-6 (8)

Last week: 70-58 win at Washington; 77-70 win at Washington State

This week: home vs. UCLA, Thursday; home vs. USC, Saturday

The Utes got their weekend road sweep and are riding momentum with four straight wins and six of eight. Tyler Rawson averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds last week.

5. Stanford 14-13, 8-6 (9)

Last week: 77-73 win at California

This week: home vs. Washington, Thursday; home vs. Washington State, Saturday

The Cardinal still has a chance to salvage its season. Victories against Washington, Arizona State and the L.A. schools prove Stanford can win the big ones.

6. Washington 18-9, 8-6 (6)

Last week: 70-58 home loss to Utah; 82-59 home win vs. Colorado

This week: at Stanford, Thursday; at California, Saturday

The home sweep of the Arizona schools might be the highlights of the season, along with the Kansas win. But Mike Hopkins might just get more out of that team yet.

7. Oregon 17-10, 7-7 (4)

Last week: 72-70 loss at USC; 86-78 OT loss at UCLA

This week: home vs. Arizona State, Thursday; home vs. Arizona, Saturday

The Ducks showed an inability to finish games they desperately needed to keep their NCAA streak going. They’ll likely be tested in the same way this week.

8. Arizona State 19-7, 7-7 (5)

Last week: 77-70 home loss to Arizona

This week: at Oregon, Thursday; at Oregon State, Saturday

The Sun Devils’ body of work likely has them in the NCAA tournament. Thursday’s game in Eugene should be a barnburner.

9. Colorado 15-12, 7-8 (7)

Last week: 73-69 loss at Washington State; 82-59 loss at Washington

This week: home vs. USC, Wednesday; home vs. UCLA, Sunday

Short of running the table in Vegas, the loss in Pullman ruined any shot the Buffaloes had at the Big Dance. Now they risk not making a postseason tournament of any kind.

10. Oregon State 13-13, 5-9 (10)

Last week: 75-68 loss at UCLA; 72-59 loss at USC

This week: home vs. Arizona, Thursday; home vs. Arizona State, Saturday

The Beavers keep losing games the same way and it’s getting old, Tres Tinkle said this week. They still have something to play for if they can find some late-season magic.

11. Washington State 10-16, 2-12 (12)

Last week: 73-69 home win vs. Colorado; 77-70 home loss to Utah

This week: at California, Thursday; at Stanford, Saturday

Malachi Flynn’s 30-point outburst pushed the Cougars to a rare win. Thursday in Berkeley likely decides who doesn’t finish last.

12. California 8-19, 2-12 (11)

Last week: 77-73 home loss to Stanford

This week: home vs. Washington State, Thursday; home vs. Washington, Saturday

The Golden Bears are last in conference games in scoring, field goal and free throw percentages, 3-point and 3-point defense percentages, assists and defensive rebounds, thus their spot at the bottom. The struggles are overshadowing a strong Pac-12 performance by freshman forward Justice Sueing (15.5 points, 5.9 rebounds).


Sports Reporter

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