After an odd week of play in the Pac-12, there was a little shakeup in the rankings. The top squad remains the in the same spot, while there was a few slight adjustments among the teams attempting to stay within striking distance.
There is still plenty of basketball left to play in the Pac-12, but it's becoming clear who are contenders and who are not.
The Ducks remain the only undefeated team in conference play and now hold a two-game advantage in the loss column over UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State. What's even more encouraging for UO is that its schedule is relatively favorable the rest of the way. Oregon's remaining slate excludes the Bruins, Wildcats and Sun Devils and includes eight games against squads with conference records below .500.
Putting the Bruins second may irk some fans, but it's tough to argue putting them anywhere else right now. Sure, they were beaten badly at ASU, but they were able to defeat the Wildcats by double digits in Tucson earlier in the week. The Sun Devils could have a case at the second spot, but that would mean leapfrogging Arizona, a team they recently lost to by 17 on their home floor.
UCLA moves to second for beating the stronger team on the road, but its loss to Arizona State shows just how inconsistent the Bruins can be.
The Wildcats rebounded from an ugly home loss to UCLA by stomping USC on Saturday. Still, the loss to the Bruins is a little alarming because it exposed the Wildcats' lack of point guard play and it shows the team still has some growing to do. Given their remaining schedule, which features six contests versus programs with losing conference records, they are far from out of it. If UA wants to stay in the race, however, it's going to have avoid performing like it did last Thursday evening.
4. Arizona State
One could make an argument for having ASU higher, but it's hard to justify moving the Sun Devils ahead of an Arizona squad that beat them by 17 points on their home floor. Arizona State certainly made a statement against UCLA over the weekend though. Most observers figured ASU would get rolled over by the Bruins at hom, but the exact opposite occurred.
Now the Sun Devils have a chance to prove they belong over the next few weeks. They have a series of very winnable affairs coming up before hitting a pretty tough road stretch to end the season, which features games at UCLA and at Arizona.
After reeling off three victories in a row, the Buffaloes are now dead even at 4-4 in conference play. Playing teams like Cal, Stanford and Wazzu certainly helped matters, but CU was awfully close to being in the same category as those squads before these last three victories occurred.
Contending for the conference crowd is a bit out of reach for Colorado at this point and their schedule is still pretty tough considering the Buffaloes have yet to play Oregon this season. There is a chance for Colorado to make a run at the big dance, though, so it cannot afford too many more losses if it wants to remain in contention for the NCAA Tournament.
After starting 4-0 in the Pac-12, the Huskies have stumbled in their past three, which includes losses to Utah and Oregon State. It doesn't get much easier for UW either. The Huskies still play Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA twice apiece with a home game against Oregon in between. After looking like a potential Pac-12 contender two weeks ago, Washington now faces a stretch that makes it very tough to climb back into the race.
The Golden Bears split their road trip to the mountain schools, leaving them at 3-4 in conference play. After defeating Utah, Cal was clobbered by Colorado in a game where the Bears could have finally surpassed the .500 mark in Pac-12 play. Unfortunately for California, the Buffaloes seem to be getting back on track and had no problem dispatching the Golden Bears. Until someone other than Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs contributes consistently, Cal will struggle to get above .500.
The Cardinal have yet to reel off consecutive victories since conference play started and stand at 3-4 after splitting a pair to Colorado and Utah last week. The next three weeks are crucial for Stanford as it faces Arizona, ASU, Oregon and UCLA over that time frame. It's a tough task for the Cardinal to overcome, but they will need to come away victorious in a couple of those in order to stay afloat.
The Trojans play before last week was a bit encouraging, but after getting swept in Arizona, they stand at 3-5 and have a tough road back to respectability. USC is all but eliminated from postseason contention at this point barring an unlikely Pac-12 tournament run.
10. Washington State
The Cougars lone two victories happen to be against the only squads they are ahead of in the conference. Wazzu continues to be a one-man army and with an 11-9 overall record and numerous likely losses ahead, Washington State is playing for nothing more than pride at this point.
11. Oregon State
OSU played well – relatively speaking – in non-conference play, but the Beavers have completely fallen apart against the Pac-12. They finally picked up their first victory of the season against a struggling Washington team, but losing at home to the Cougars took any potential wind out of OSU's sails.
After losing to Cal and getting crushed by a mediocre Stanford squad, there is no doubting the logic behind placing Utah at the bottom. Other than an upset over UW more than a week ago, the Utes have proven to be the worst team in the Pac-12 since the start of the conference schedule.
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