Ducks lose top spot in Pac-12 power rankings

by Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

#1  No. 12 Arizona (21-5, 9-4 Pac-12). Last five: 5-0

Now, this seems like the Arizona of old: five straight wins, including over No. 23 USC. The last three wins were all by single digits, but a win is a win. Senior forward Ryan Anderson has been one of the best players in the Pac-12. With 16.0 points per game and a team-high 57.9 percent shooting rate, him the dull-faced sharpshooter—seriously, have you seen his face?—but just don’t call him a loser. He and the Wildcats are rolling.

#2   No. 16 Oregon (20-6, 9-4 Pac-12). Last five: 3-2

A blip in the radar or the start of something bigger? Oregon lost both games last week, ending a six-game win streak. Both games were on the road to formidable foes in California and Stanford, but Oregon showed some vulnerabilities. Still at the top of the Pac-12 standings, the Ducks may not have fallen off their high horse but the steed is beginning to buck.

#3   Utah (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12). Last five: 3-2

Sure, Sunday’s victory was over conference cellar-dweller Washington State, but an 88-47 win is an 88-47 win. The Utes still have plenty of versatility, from a skilled post in Jakob Poeltl, to perimeter defense and 3-point shooting. The toughest part for Utah is their remaining games, including road matchups with UCLA and USC, plus the capstone home stand against Arizona and Colorado.

#4    California (17-8, 7-5 Pac-12). Last five: 3-2

In Cal’s last three games, they’re 3-0 with the slimmest margin being the 83-71 win over OSU on Saturday. Problem is, they were all at home. The Golden Bears are undefeated in Berkeley but winless on the road in Pac-12 games. Luckily, the road trip this week is the easiest it will get: Washington and WSU. And if Cal can’t stop their road woes, just watch some film of the 20-point drubbing of Oregon this week. That was fun, wasn’t it?

#5    Colorado (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12). Last five: 3-2

A double overtime win versus Washington State and an 81-80 victory over Washington? I’d question if Colorado deserved those wins, but leading scorer and rebounder Josh Scott missed both with an injury from the OSU game. He’ll be back soon for the Buffaloes, so Colorado is in good hands. Still, they’ve hung in the top of the conference by the skin of their teeth: in the last nine games, Colorado has won by double digits just once, but the Buffaloes are 6-3 in that span.

#6    USC (18-7, 7-5 Pac-12). Last five: 3-2

USC was ranked No. 23 in the NCAA last week, and the Trojans still aren’t out of sight from the pedestal they stood on a month ago with a 15-3 overall record to their name. But, USC lost both games last week to Arizona and ASU and the season could disintegrate completely in the final six games of the regular season. A pair of home games this week against both of the 8-5 teams in Colorado and Utah could determine if USC pounces back into the top echelon of the conference or twists its ankles in a comedic downward tumble. I predict the latter.

#7   Oregon State (15-9, 6-7 Pac-12). Last five: 3-2

The Beavers followed a momentous road win over Stanford on Thursday with an uninspired loss to Cal on Saturday, but the Beavers could be in a much worse spot. Of the final five games on the schedule, there’s the winnable pair (Washington and WSU), the games against the teams nearby in the standings (USC and UCLA) and the rivalry skirmish (Oregon this Saturday). Winning three of those games would be good, four would be season-changing and five—well, we can cross that bridge if we come to it. But it all starts in the Civil War in Eugene, in a contest already meaningful for the in-state rivalry and also a game that could make the difference for OSU in the quest to make the NCAA Tournament.

#8   UCLA (14-11, 5-7 Pac-12). Last five: 2-3

The Bruins only have one win this season against a Pac-12 team in the top half of the conference, but if any team in the lower half of the Pac-12 right now could make some waves late this year, it just might be UCLA. With five players averaging double figures in scoring, the balanced attack will be helpful down the stretch. The Bruins, however, seem to have the least comfortable seats of any bench in the Pac-12: no reserve scores more than 4.7 points a game.

#9   Stanford (12-11, 5-7 Pac-12). Last five: 1-4

Stanford is reeling, having lost five of their last six. So why aren’t they even lower in the rankings? Because apparently the best way to end a four-game losing streak is to face the No. 11 team in the nation and Pac-12-leading Oregon. Stanford did just that on Saturday, beating the Ducks by four. With the Washington schools coming up, who’s to say the Cardinal didn’t just begin a three-game win streak?

#10   Washington (15-10, 7-6 Pac-12). Last five: 1-4

If an 8-point home win over 4-9 ASU is the best game of the last five for Washington, the Huskies are trending in the wrong direction. To be fair, Washington has lost only once this year by more than 10 points—twice if you count nonconference—and a 5-1 start in the Pac-12 start still provides the faltering Huskies with a winning record in conference.

#11   Arizona State (14-12, 4-9 Pac-12). Last five: 2-3

ASU has won two of three, including over No. 23 USC, but the eye test won’t be denied on this one: the Sun Devils don’t deserve to be higher than No. 11. You could almost say they deserve to be above Washington, but ASU is 0-2 versus the Huskies and, after all, ASU’s last three losses were by 14.0 points on average. If you’re a Pac-12 team, having ASU on the schedule is a sight for sore eyes.

#12   Washington State (9-16, 1-12 Pac-12). Last five: 0-5

The problem for WSU—losers of 11 straight games—is that being a cupcake themselves lessens the number of cupcakes they can play, because a team can’t play itself. If WSU tried, they’d probably find a way to lose anyways. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as the 41-point rout versus Utah this weekend, though. It’s only appropriate that WSU basketball’s official Twitter account tweeted the wrong score after the game, saying it was 88-46 instead of 88-47. Even the social media department doesn’t think the Cougars are good enough to get within 41 points of Utah.

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