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Pac-12 men's basketball power rankings: Lower-half teams answer back to condense standings
COMMENTARY

Pac-12 men's basketball power rankings: Lower-half teams answer back to condense standings

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So much for Pac-12 men’s basketball’s top-half teams taking control and the bottom half rolling over.

In a six-day stretch through this past Sunday, six teams that entered games with worse conference records than their opponents came out winners.

Oregon State and Washington each had two of those victories. Stanford, playing without three starters, gave UCLA its first Pac-12 loss.

That’s created a much more compact set of standings and makes for a few interesting weeks ahead.

Will some of the bottom-half teams continue to rise? Will the top half take control again? We’ll see.

Here are my weekly power rankings.

NOTE: I categorize weeks by the Pac-12’s standard weekly schedule, which typically start on Wednesday or Thursday. So Oregon State’s home win against USC last Tuesday (Jan. 19) was in the previous week and included in last week’s power rankings.

1. UCLA 12-3, 8-1 (1)

Last week: 61-57 win at California; 73-72 OT loss at Stanford

This week: Home vs. Oregon, Thursday; home vs. Oregon State, Saturday; home vs. Oregon, Monday

The 23rd-ranked Bruins learned last week just how competitive the conference is, even with teams that appear to be down on their luck. They’ll be hard-pressed to stay on top with their upcoming schedule. UCLA visits USC next week.

2. USC 12-3, 6-2 (4)

Last week: Game at Stanford postponed; 76-68 win at California

This week: Home vs. Oregon State, Thursday; home vs. Oregon, Saturday; home vs. Stanford, Tuesday (Feb. 2)

The Trojans bounced back from their loss to the Beavers … and now get to play them again. If USC took Oregon State lightly the first time around, that certainly won’t happen Thursday.

3. ARIZONA 11-3, 5-3 (5)

Last week: 84-82 win at Arizona State; 80-67 home win vs. Arizona State

This week: Home vs. Stanford, Thursday; home vs. California, Saturday

The Wildcats have created a wide gap between themselves and the in-state rivals. Three straight wins after the disaster at home against the L.A. schools have them right in the mix for a regular-season title.

4. COLORADO 12-4, 6-3 (2)

Last week: 84-80 loss at Washington; 70-59 win at Washington State

This week: Home vs. Washington State, Wednesday; home vs. Utah, Saturday

The clunker in Seattle ended a four-game winning streak and was a real head-scratcher. Back-to-back games against the Cougars provide just the medicine to get back on track.

5. OREGON 9-3, 4-2 (3)

Last week: 75-64 home loss to Oregon State

This week: At UCLA, Thursday; at USC, Saturday; at UCLA, Monday (all postponed)

The Ducks were back on the court for a week before their program was paused again due to COVID-19 problems Tuesday. With a little more than five weeks to the end of the regular season, there has to be concern that all those postponed games (five now) won’t be made up.

6. STANFORD 9-5, 5-3 (6)

Last week: Home game with USC postponed; 73-72 OT home win vs. UCLA

This week: At Arizona, Thursday; at Arizona State, Saturday; at USC, Tuesday (Feb. 2)

Facing a potential third straight loss and playing without three guys accounting for 25 starts and 34.9 points a game, Oscar da Silva and the Cardinal found a way to get past UCLA. But how do you leave da Silva that wide open with the game on the line? Hosting teams in Santa Cruz, Stanford still has yet to play a true home game this season.

7. OREGON STATE 8-5, 4-3 (7)

Last week: 75-64 win at Oregon

This week: At USC, Thursday; at UCLA, Saturday

The Beavers have put all the pieces together the past three games with unselfish play, but can they keep it going? It doesn’t get any easier with five of the next seven on the road.

8. CALIFORNIA 7-10, 2-8 (10)

Last week: 61-57 home loss to UCLA; 76-68 home loss to USC

This week: At Arizona State, Thursday; at Arizona, Saturday

The Golden Bears nearly knocked off the Bruins without leading scorer Mat Bradley and almost beat the Trojans with him. Cal will be a dangerous team down the stretch.

9. WASHINGTON 3-11, 2-7 (12)

Last week: 84-80 home win vs. Colorado; 83-79 home win vs. Utah

This week: Home vs. Washington State, Sunday

It was only a matter of time before the Huskies found some sort of traction. They did it in a big way and might have found a path to stay out of the Pac-12 basement.

10. UTAH 6-7, 3-6 (8)

Last week: 71-56 win at Washington State; 83-79 loss at Washington

This week: At Colorado, Saturday; at Arizona State, Tuesday (Feb. 2)

The Utes showed some life against the flailing Cougars then turned a win into a loss with 16 turnovers against the Huskies. Tough to shoot 50% or better in both games of a road trip and only get one win.

11. ARIZONA STATE 4-7, 1-4 (9)

Last week: 84-82 home loss to Arizona; 80-67 loss at Arizona

This week: Home vs. California, Thursday; home vs. Stanford, Saturday; home vs. Utah, Tuesday (Feb. 2)

The Sun Devils’ season is teetering. They haven’t won since Dec. 13 (six games), but they do get three straight and five of the next seven at home.

12. WASHINGTON STATE 9-6, 2-6 (8)

Last week: 71-56 home loss to Utah; 70-59 home loss to Colorado

This week: At Colorado, Wednesday; at Washington, Sunday

The Cougars have lost five straight by an average of nearly 16 points and have scored more than 61 just once in that stretch. There’s nothing easy about their remaining schedule, starting with four straight on the road.

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