Pac-12 Power Rankings: Pre-UCLA

Michael Kiever, Sports Reporter

1. No. 12 Arizona: 15-3 (3-2 Pac-12)

 After two consecutive gut-wrenching losses to USC and UCLA, Arizona bounced back by smacking both Washington and Washington State in an eerily similar fashion (they beat UW 90-66 and WSU 90-67.) The perennially dominant Wildcats have run into some injury problems, but still have a firm grip atop the Pac-12 totem pole.

2. No. 21 USC: 15-3 (4-1)

USC recently beat Arizona in quadruple overtime, and they are now back in the AP top 25 for the first time since 2008. Early season success has fueled the hype-train for USC, but the Trojans will need to continue piling on the victories to prove that they are as good as their record suggests.

3. Washington: 12-5 (4-1)

Preseason losses to Oakland and UCSB put a slight damper on expectations for the Huskies (12-5) this season, but UW has come on strong in Pac-12 play. Despite what his name may suggest, guard Andrew Andrews is not a fan of repetition. Andrews has put up per-game averages of 21.4 points, five assists and six rebounds as he helps keep the Huskies from repeating last year’s 16-15 season.

4. Colorado: 14-4 (3-2)

Trembles of the stampeding Buffaloes (14-4) are beginning to be heard around the Pac-12. Colorado has begun to prove itself as a much improved squad, and impressed by sweeping both Oregon and Oregon State during their brief graze through Oregon.  

5. Oregon: 14-4 (2-3)

 Recipients of a healthy serving of preseason love, Oregon (14-4) has not been performing as well as their lofty projections may have suggested. The low point of the season may have already happened for UO when the Beavers mopped the floor with the Ducks in the first Civil War. Still, the roster has talent, and the Ducks have a couple solid wins in their belt. Counting them out this early would be a mistake.

6. Utah: 13-5 (2-3)

To put the depth of the Pac-12 in perspective, consider the following — Utah (13-5) lost to Oregon and California by a combined 31 points. Oregon State defeated both of those teams by a combined 19 points, yet lost to Utah last Sunday. Utah has shown some inconsistency of late, but at least has Jacob Poeltl as a consistent force in the frontcourt.

7. UCLA 11-7 (2-3)

If Utah is inconsistent, then there may not be a word in the dictionary to describe UCLA (11-7.) With wins over top-programs Kentucky and Gonzaga and losses against cellar-dwellers Monmouth and Washington State, it is a futile process trying to peg the Bruins in these power rankings. Their performances on any given night can range from unspeakably bad to terrific. For that reason, only one thing regarding this team can be said definitively: If UCLA were a roller coaster, I would ride it. 

8. Stanford 10-6 (3-2)

The Cardinal basketball team may not be anywhere as good as the Stanford football team, but that does not mean they are pushovers. Stanford has collected wins against OSU, Utah and Cal in recent weeks, showing that they belong in the talented Pac-12. Still, it probably would not hurt to see if Christian McCaffrey has any interest in running the point.

9. Oregon State 11-5 (2-3)

 Jarmal Reid’s recent ref-tripping incident has Oregon State (11-5) in the news for all of the wrong reasons, and Reid is now suspended for the next four games. Additionally, the Beavers are on a two-game losing streak and have tough matchups with USC and UCLA this week. The youth of the team has truly proven to be a double-edged sword — the talent is tantalizing, but there is still some growth to be done. If they can become more cohesive as a unit (and stop harming referees) they will see their stock rise quickly.

10. California 12-6 (2-3)

 Rent-a-players and top recruits Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown had high expectations for California early in the season. The Golden Bears are now on a three-game losing streak, and Rabb and Brown are likely to bolt to the NBA after the season. Cal needs to turn things around very quickly to turn the potential into results before their top-five draft class disappears forever. No pressure!

11. Arizona State 11-7 (1-4)

 Arizona State is best known for being the other basketball team  in Arizona (i.e. not very good.) In fact, they lost to lowly Sacramento State in their first game of the season. Any expert will tell you that a team that loses to Sacramento State is certifiably awf — oh, wait. Beaver Nation feels for you, Sun Devils.

12. Washington State 9-8 (1-4)

 Apparently, the term “Cougin’ it” still applies in basketball. Washington State (9-8) has lost four of their last five games, and the highlight of their season might very well be their redemption victory over Portland State in the preseason. Perhaps it would be best if Cougar fans kept their televisions off until football season.

On Twitter @michaelkievaaa