Week 16 Pac 12 Basketball Power Rankings
Cal is the Hottest Team in the Pac 12
The Pac 12 conference title race is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and entertaining of the college basketball season.
From top to bottom every team in the league has improved from last year and there really isn’t a clear favorite to win the regular season title. Arizona has had their moments, Oregon is mediocre without Dominic Artis and who knows what to think about UCLA.
There are a few dark horse candidates that can make moves in the final two weeks as Arizona State, Cal and Colorado are within at least two games of first place. Cal is probably the hottest team out of that group having won six of their last seven, most of those wins coming against the top four teams in the conference.
Colorado is probably the second hottest team in the conference winning four of their last five. If not for an overtime buzzer-beating loss to Arizona State the Buffs would be on an even hotter tear but now they will have to fight to finish in the top four of the conference.
Not only will the final few weeks of conference play be exciting to watch but the way things are shaping out this year the Pac 12 tournament will be even more riveting, especially being in Vegas for the first time.
As February draws on each and every game will take on a new importance. It’s safe to say that the level of play will step up considerably more this month and it will be worth watching.
Here’s how the Pac 12 stacks up in week 16.
12. Washington State Cougars
Record: 11-16 (2-12)
Last Week: L 79-77 OT vs. Oregon, L 69-57 at Arizona State
Washington State is in a free fall right now as they have lost seven games in a row. They can’t really get anything going right now and the only positive they can really take away from this losing streak is that four of the seven losses were by four points or fewer. That included an OT loss to first-place Oregon so they aren’t necessarily playing bad basketball, just not good enough to win right now.
This week: Feb 23 at No. 12 Arizona
11. Oregon State Beavers
Record: 13-14 (3-11)
Last week: L 72-62 at Washington, L 82-72 at Stanford
Oregon State has a lot of talent to be this far down in the Pac 12 standings but that is how the season has played out for them. They can put it together but it just hasn’t happened consistently enough for them this year. It doesn’t get much easier for them either as their next two games are against Cal and Oregon. Their only hope this year is if they can make another surprising run through the Pac 12 tournament but that is unlikely.
This week: Feb 23 vs. Cal, Feb 28 at No. 23 Oregon
10. Utah Utes
Record: 11-15 (3-11)
Last week: L 68-64 vs. No. 9 Arizona, L 60-50 at Colorado
The Utes are much improved and they’ve given almost every team in the conference fits, especially at home. Their two losses to Arizona have come by a combined seven points and they almost pulled off the upset in their latest contest. They also hung around at Colorado but they were unable to overcome CU’s pressure defense. Utah has some talented young players but you can’t rely on them to win conference games just yet.
This week: Feb 28 at Cal
9. Washington Huskies
Record: 14-13 (6-8)
Last week: W 72-62 vs. Oregon State, L 70-52 at No. 12 Arizona
The Huskies are struggling mightily having lost four of their last five games including a recent drubbing at the hands of Arizona. Lorenzo Romar’s team’s have been a model of consistency but they never fare well against top 25 teams and this year isn’t any different. They are 0-5 in 2013 against the AP top 25 and their last two losses have come by an average of 15.5 points.
This week: Feb 23 at Arizona State
8. Stanford Cardinal
Record: 16-7 (7-7)
Last week: L 88-80 vs. UCLA, W 82-72 at Oregon State
The Cardinal have been playing solid basketball but it is just adding up to mediocre basketball. Somehow at 7-7 they are only three games back in the conference and they still have an outside shot at higher seed in the tournament but it will be difficult with their schedule. Three of their last four games are against teams directly above them in the standings.
This week: Feb. 23 at No. 23 Oregon, Feb 27 vs. Colorado
7. USC Trojans
Record: 12-14 (7-6)
Last week: L 76-68 at Cal
USC is playing a lot better under interim head coach Bob Cantu. They’ve won four of their last five games with the only loss coming to a red-hot Cal team. Most of the wins have come against the bottom teams in the conference but at this point in the season a win is a win. As of today they are just 2.5 games out of first place in the conference something that seemed rather impossible after their non-conference performance and after they fired their head coach.
This week: Feb 24 vs. UCLA, Feb 27 vs. No. 12 Arizona
6. UCLA Bruins
Record: 19-7 (9-4)
Last week: W 88-80 at Stanford
UCLA is a hard team to figure out. They have won three of their last four games with the only loss coming against Cal but their wins came against the bottom teams in the league. It will be interesting to see how they fare against cross-town rival USC this weekend seeing how their last meeting went (L at home) and how well the Trojans have been playing under their interim coach Bob Cantu.
This week: Feb 24 at USC, Feb 27 vs. Arizona State
5. Colorado Buffaloes
Record: 18-8 (8-6)
Last week: L 63-62 OT vs. Arizona State, W 60-50 vs. Utah
Colorado bounced back from a tough home loss to ASU by exacting revenge on Utah. A fight almost broke out coming out of the locker rooms for the second half between the two teams and that’s good to hear. Utah was banging on Colorado’s locker room doors and they took it personally. It’s good to see them have a nasty streak because they will need it in the final two weeks of the season. They still have a chance at a top-four seed and a first round bye in the tournament but they’ll need a strong performance on the road this upcoming week.
This week: Feb. 27 at Stanford
4. Arizona State Sun Devils
Record: 20-7 (9-5)
Last week: W 63-62 OT at Colorado, W 69-57 vs. Washington State
After dropping two straight games the Sun Devils have bounced back with two straight victories. The win over Colorado was especially rewarding seeing how physical the game was and knowing how tough it is to win in Boulder. Arizona State is a team that nobody wants to play in the Pac 12 tournament because they will be a very tough out.
This week: Feb 23 vs. Washington, Feb 27 at UCLA
3. Arizona Wildcats
Record: 22-4 (10-4)
Last week: W 68-64 at Utah, W 70-52 vs. Washington
Arizona is still in a tie for first place in the conference and although they have the best overall record in the league they might not be considered the best team in the conference with their performance of late. The Wildcats have won their last two in a row but they were against Utah and Washington. They are not necessarily the toughest teams in the Pac 12 and just before those two wins they lost to Cal and Colorado. We’ll see how they perform during the final two weeks of the season.
This week: Feb 23 vs. Washington State, Feb 27 at USC
2. Oregon Ducks
Record: 21-6 (10-4)
Last week: W 79-77 OT at Washington State, L 48-46 vs. Cal
The Ducks are just 4-4 without Dominic Artis and it is easy to see that they are not the same team without him. Oregon suffered a tough loss to a sizzling Cal team on a buzzer beater so even without Artis they are still competitive. However, they are still tied for first place in the conference and have a relatively soft schedule coming up in their next four games. They expect Artis to return within the next week and that should be to their benefit.
This week: Feb 23 vs. Stanford, Feb 28 vs. Oregon State
1. Cal Bears
Record: 17-9 (9-5)
Last week: W 76-68 vs. USC, W 48-46 at No. 23 Oregon
Don’t look now but Cal is the hottest team in the conference winning four in a row and six of their last seven. The wins in that stretch have come against Arizona, UCLA and Oregon twice. Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs are getting hot at the right time and they have a legitimate chance at the regular season conference title as they are just one game back of first place.
This week: Feb 23 at Oregon State, Feb 28 vs. Utah