Ducks No. 1 in latest power rankings

Michael Kiever Sports Reporter

No. 9 Oregon (23-6, 12-4): It is with great pain that I write these words: the Ducks are really good this year. They finally rank in the top 10 nationally, and are wrapping up what has been a stellar season so far. They have proven that they can go head-to-head with any team in the Pac-12, which will only help them once March Madness comes around. Now, all journalistic objectivity aside, let me present you an interesting statistic: Last Wednesday, Oregon only beat Washington State by 14 points. On Sunday, Oregon State beat the lowly Cougars by 20 points. I’m no statistician, but the numbers don’t lie, folks.

No. 13 Utah (23-7, 12-5): Just like that, the Utes are off and running. With a six-game winning streak and impressive 70-64 win over Arizona in their back pocket, Utah is hitting all the right cylinders at the right time. On top of that, standout sophomore center Jakob Poeltl picked up some much-needed rest when Utah blew out Arizona State 81-46 last Thursday. Utah astoundingly led ASU 30-2 at halftime. That’s a score more fitting of some playground game where the bullies are beating up on first graders.

No. 25 California 21-8 (11-5): Not unlike a young Anakin Skywalker realizing the extent of his powers, Cal is proving it can beat any team in the Pac-12 with raw talent. The Golden Bears have won seven games in a row, and they haven’t been softies, either. They beat Oregon by 20 points, and last week, and cruised by both UCLA and USC last week by a combined 34 points. Cal still has much to prove, especially with a bout against Arizona this Thursday. Whether the Golden Bears reach full-blown Darth Vader status of crushing opponents this season is yet to be seen.

Colorado (21-9, 10-7): The Buffs successfully corralled the herd to victory against both Arizona teams last week, stampeding back from their prior two-loss week. With senior forward Josh Scott leading the charge for Colorado down the stretch, the team is in good hands. They’ll end their season this week with a marquee matchup with Utah.

No. 18 Arizona (22-7, 10-6): It has been a long fall from the top for the Wildcats. After spending much of the season atop of the Pac-12 rankings, Arizona has taken a tumble all the way down to the fifth spot. What happened? For one, Arizona has had a propensity to lose big games this season. They have lost two straight close ones against Colorado and Utah, and also fell in their only matchups with Oregon and California so far. They still have immense potential, and Thursday’s matchup with Cal could go along ways in rebuilding their confidence.

Oregon State (17-10, 8-8): Thanks to Stephen Thompson Jr. and a blowout victory, the Beavers are back at .500 in Pac-12 play. Unfortunately, they are still stuck in a glut of Stanford, USC and Washington for sixth place in the conference. Of course, that only makes Wednesday’s matchup in Los Angeles with USC even juicier. Look for Payton II to (figuratively) play his pants off this week in a fervent effort to get OSU back into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990.

Stanford (15-12, 8-8): The Cardinal have been quietly resurgent of late, sneakily picking up a key win against Oregon and defeating both USC and UCLA after a four-game skid. What they are really lacking is playmakers. Fortunately, they have one staring them right in the face: Heisman runner-up Christian McCaffrey. Have you seen his rippling muscles and uncanny playmaking ability? Tell me that wouldn’t translate to the hardwood. According to investigative reporting* by the Daily Barometer, McCaffrey played four years of varsity basketball in high school and averaged 12 points per game. Give him a chance, Stanford.

(*two-second Google search)

USC (19-10, 8-8): Here is the Trojans’ last three weeks encapsulated in one word: ouch. USC has lost six of their last seven games, including two consecutive losses of over 20+ points. With two games against solid opponents in OSU and Oregon to close the season, USC will have to make a monumental turnaround to stop the skid. Luckily, they will be at home where they have only lost once this season

Washington (16-13, 8-9): “Why even bother? What is the point of this?” These are questions that many Husky players are likely contemplating this week. Recently on the receiving end of a demoralizing buzzer-beating loss in Corvallis and an 86-73 smashing from the Ducks, it has not been an ideal ending to the season for Washington. Luckily, they will get to exorcise some demons when they take aim at in-state sibling Washington State this evening to complete the regular season.

UCLA (15-14, 6-10): In usual UCLA fashion, the Bruins beat Colorado by 22 points last week, then promptly lost their next two against Cal and Stanford. UCLA has been marred by consistency issues the entire season, and it doesn’t appear that is going away anytime soon.

Arizona State (14-15, 4-12): It’s been a lost year for ASU, whose only Pac-12 victories have come from UCLA, Washington State and OSU. Among the problems with their team: no one averages over anything above 3.5 assists, leading to a second-to-last assist rate in the Pac-12. Pass the dang ball, ASU. 

Washington State (9-20, 1-16): The Cougars have now lost their 15th straight game in a row. I have run out of humorous ways to spin this. Simply put, they’re Cougin’ it.