Week Six Pac 12 Basketball Power Rankings
Pac 12 Up & Down in Week 5
Just when you think that the Pac 12 has turned a corner and all of the teams have gotten significantly better from last season a week like week five happens.
After playing well in their preseason tournaments, for the most part, the rest of the non-conference schedule for the majority of the league’s team seemed pretty easy. It was supposed to be a time where Pac 12 teams worked out their kinks against inferior opponents but instead some of the conference’s teams are losing those games. It turns out that some of these “cupcake” games haven’t been so sweet; rather they have been sour pills to swallow.
The conference has experienced some bad losses so far in 2012 and many of the losses are coming at home. Add USC’s loss to UC Irvine from this past week and you have at least four games that teams should have easily won at home but they lost. Washington lost to Albany at home, Utah lost to Sacramento State at home, UCLA lost to Cal Poly at home and Arizona State got blown out at home by a weak Depaul team.
Home is supposed to be where teams play their best. They are familiar with their surroundings, they aren’t traveling at all and they have their home fans as an advantage. However, that hasn’t been very helpful for some of the Pac 12’s teams up to this point. There’s time to get better and utilize their home venues better but it better happen before conference play begins.
Here’s how the Pac 12 stacks up in week six.
12. USC Trojans
Last week: W 70-26 vs. UC-Riverside, L 61-54 vs. UC-Irvine
I think that I have given USC way too much credit up to this point in my power rankings articles. At the beginning of the season it was trendy to think that the Trojans would be much better than they were last year because they were getting players back that were unable to play last year due to various reasons. It hasn’t quite worked out that well and they have lost some bad games so far, including last week’s clunker against UC-Irvine.
This week: Dec. 22 at Georgia
11. Utah Utes
Last week: W 62-53 vs. SMU
The Utes have been playing much better than they did last season and they’ve already passed their entire win total from last year. They avenged an earlier loss to SMU by beating them in Sal Lake this past week. It’s always harder to beat a team the second time around and Utah proved that theory once again. Their next two non-conference game are extremely winnable so I can see the Utes entering conference play at 9-3.
This week: Dec. 21 vs. Cal State Northridge
10. Washington State Cougars
Last Week: No games
The Cougars had the week off for finals and it gave them some valuable practice time to work on some of their weaknesses and to heal any nagging injuries. Brock Motum once again is their standout but he hasn’t received much help in the scoring department from his teammates. Motum is averaging just over 20 points per game but the next closest Cougar is barely averaging double figures. The scoring will have to become more balanced for Washington State to have any success once conference play kicks off.
This week: Dec. 21 vs. Buffalo
9. Arizona State Sun Devils
Last week: W 61-42 vs. Dartmouth
The Sun Devils bounced back from their bad loss to Depaul by easily taking care of Dartmouth at home. Just think if ASU didn’t fall on their face against one of the weaker teams in the Big East they would be sitting pretty at 10-1 with their lone loss coming to ranked Creighton. But that’s not how things turned out and the only way to move now is forward. Arizona State has their first true road test this week when they travel to Texas Tech so we’ll see what they are made of away from Tempe.
This week: Dec. 22 at Texas Tech
8. Stanford Cardinal
Last week: W 75-52 vs. UC-Davis, L 88-79 at N.C. State
Every chance that the Cardinal have had to beat a quality opponent they have failed. Their four losses have come against tough opponents (Missouri, Minnesota, Belmont and North Carolina State) and maybe it’s just time to realize that Stanford just isn’t good enough to beat the upper echelon teams yet. There was optimism that Stanford could turn the corner after winning the NIT last year but that hasn’t translated into success this season.
This week: Dec. 21 at Northwestern
7. Washington Huskies
Last Week: W 75-67 vs. Jacksonville State, W 75-62 vs. Cal Poly
After starting out the season slowly and suffering some poor losses along the way, Washington has slowly gotten better and they have worked out some of their kinks against weaker opponents. That’s exactly what they needed to do and they have one more chance to before their schedule toughens up once again. They have a date with Northern Illinois this week before they have to travel to play Connecticut.
This week: Dec. 22 vs. Northern Illinois
6. UCLA Bruins
Last week: W 95-53 vs. Prarie View, W 89-70 vs. Long Beach State
I may have been too quick to think that USC was any good and too quick to think that UCLA is overrated. The Bruins are slowly but surely improving and becoming a much better team as they get more and more games under their belts. They have a home game against a low-scoring Fresno State team before they face their toughest game so far when they host Missouri.
This week: Dec. 22 vs. Fresno State
5. Cal Bears
Last week: L 74-64 vs. Creighton, W 68-59 vs. UC-Santa Barbara
After starting out the season 6-0 the Bears have dropped three of their next four and now sit at a decent 7-3. The games that they lost came against quality opponents and like their Northern California brethren Stanford maybe they just aren’t good enough to contend with the upper echelon teams from around the country. If you think about it their only “good” win was over Georgia Tech in the DirecTV Classic.
This week: Dec. 22 vs. Prarie View
4. Oregon State Beavers
Last week: W 87-77 vs. Chicago State, W 69-53 vs. Howard
Don’t look now but Oregon State has quietly moved their way into the top four in this week’s power rankings. It’s a far cry from where they were to begin the season (11th) and they could be similar to last year’s Colorado team that was predicted to finish 11th in the conference but ended up winning the conference tournament. I don’t think their transformation will be quite as drastic but they are playing good basketball.
This week: Dec. 22 vs. San Diego
3. Oregon Ducks
Last week: W 60-38 vs. Nebraska, L 91-84 3OT at UTEP
The Ducks followed up a dominating performance over Nebraska with a head-scratching loss in triple overtime at UTEP. Despite the setback Oregon has been the biggest surprise of the early-season seeing as they weren’t predicted to be very good this year. Dana Altman has done a terrific job of turning the Oregon program into contenders and they will be a team to watch as the season progresses.
This week: Dec. 22 vs. Houston Baptist
2. Colorado Buffaloes
Last week: No games
Colorado had last week off to finish up their semester exams. The team used the time off to work out their kinks and help some players out of some early-season funks. Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie are experiencing some sophomore slumps after both players had tremendous stretches earlier in the non-conference schedule. Both players have shown their best and worst through the first 10 games but now it’s time to find a happy medium and gain some momentum heading into conference play.
This week: Dec. 21 vs. Northern Arizona
1. Arizona Wildcats
Last week: W 65-64 vs. No. 5 Florida, W 89-64 vs. Oral Roberts
The Wildcats stunned Florida by rallying from 11 points down in the final minutes to pull off the upset. It was not only the biggest win of the season for them but it was also the biggest non-conference win for the Pac 12 this year. They are obviously the class of the conference and it’s easy to say that they will stick around in the No. 1 spot until someone beats them in conference play, which is unlikely.
This week: Diamond Head Classic: Dec. 22 vs. Eastern Tennessee State, TBD