Finally, a matchup between two of the top teams in the conference.
With Arizona’s trip to the L.A. schools two weeks ago postponed due to COVID issues, the first scheduled games between squads expected to battle for king of the hill in Pac-12 men’s basketball were put on hold.
On Thursday, fans get the next best thing to date when Arizona hosts Colorado. The Buffaloes were picked to finish sixth in the conference in the preseason media poll, but they look like they might be better than that.
Also Thursday, UCLA hosts Oregon. The Ducks could again be a contender for a conference title, but that hasn’t been proven out yet.
Here are this week’s power rankings.
1. UCLA 10-1, 2-0 (Last week: 1)
Last week: 96-78 home win vs. Long Beach State; 60-52 win at California
This week: Home vs. Oregon, Thursday; home vs. Oregon State, Saturday
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The third-ranked Bruins, playing their first game in nearly four weeks, shook off some rust against Long Beach State then pulled away in the second half from a much-improved Cal squad. They’ll get tested this week by two solid offensive teams.
2. ARIZONA 12-1, 2-0 (2)
Last week: No games
This week: Home vs. Colorado, Thursday; home vs. Utah, Saturday
The sixth-ranked Wildcats’ staff has tried tirelessly to reschedule those L.A. road games but to no avail. Thursday’s contest will be a good measuring stick for both teams.
3. USC 13-1, 3-1 (3)
Last week: 77-63 win at California; 75-69 loss at Stanford
This week: Home vs. Oregon State, Thursday; home vs. Oregon, Saturday
The No. 5 Trojans were one of just two undefeated teams left in the country, leaving only top-ranked and defending NCAA champion Baylor. Then the Bears also lost Tuesday. USC was shooting 60% at the foul line (348th of 350 in the country) heading to Stanford and shot 21 of 32 (65.6).
4. COLORADO 11-3, 3-1 (4)
Last week: 83-78 home win vs. Washington State; 78-64 home win vs. Washington
This week: At Arizona, Thursday; at Arizona State, Saturday
The Buffaloes have quietly put together a solid season. But they lost by double digits to both the ranked teams they’ve faced and certainly have something to prove.
5. STANFORD 9-4, 2-1 (7)
Last week: 75-69 home win against USC
This week: At Washington State, Thursday; at Washington, Saturday
Playing its first game in 19 days and without a home crowd against USC, Stanford showed it will be no pushover. Freshman forward Harrison Ingram (21 points and 10 rebounds versus the Trojans) is a future Pac-12 star, if he sticks around.
6. OREGON 9-6, 2-2 (6)
Last week: 78-76 win at Oregon State
This week: At UCLA, Thursday; at USC, Saturday
The Ducks escaped from Gill with a third straight win. A mini gauntlet, with WSU to follow this week’s games, gives Oregon a chance to continue its momentum.
7. WASHINGTON STATE 9-6, 2-2 (8)
Last week: 83-78 loss at Colorado; 77-61 win at Utah
This week: Home vs. Stanford, Thursday; home vs. California, Saturday
Giving up 46 second-half points kept the Cougars from a win in Boulder. But they bounced back to get the split and now come home, where WSU has lost to Eastern Washington and New Mexico State.
8. CALIFORNIA 9-7, 2-3 (5)
Last week: 77-63 home loss to USC; 60-52 home loss to UCLA
This week: At Washington, Wednesday; at Washington State, Saturday
The Golden Bears showed they aren’t quite ready to compete with the big boys. But the upcoming road trip could foreshadow what direction their season is heading.
9. OREGON STATE 3-11, 1-3 (9)
Last week: 78-76 home loss to Oregon
This week: At USC, Thursday; at UCLA, Saturday
The Beavers had the late-game momentum Monday but couldn’t finish it off. There’s no doubt this team is playing much better than it was a month ago.
10. WASHINGTON 6-7, 1-2 (10)
Last week: 74-68 win at Utah; 78-64 loss at Colorado
This week: Home vs. California, Wednesday; home vs. Stanford, Saturday
The Huskies turned a 14-point deficit into a nine-point lead in a little more than 10 minutes in Salt Lake City. Washington can keep its season afloat this week before going to the Beaver State.
11. ARIZONA STATE 5-8, 1-2 (12)
Last week: No games
This week: Home vs. Utah, Thursday, ppd.; home vs. Colorado, Saturday
If the Sun Devils play Saturday, it will be just their second game since Dec. 19. The only one played in that stretch was a 24-point loss at California.
12. UTAH 8-8, 1-5 (11)
Last week: 74-68 home loss to Washington; 77-61 home loss to Washington State
This week: At Arizona State, Thursday, ppd.; at Arizona, Saturday
The Utes’ season continued a steep fall with the collapse against the Huskies. Now they get the conference’s three ranked teams in succession.
Jesse Sowa can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter, @JesseSowaGT.