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Pac-12 Basketball Power Rankings: 1/15

An upstart California team has joined the conversation in the Pac-12. Can the Golden Bears contend with the conference elites?

NCAA Basketball: Washington at California Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

1. Oregon Ducks (16-2)

Last Game: (W) 85-43 v. Oregon State | Streak: 14W

Oregon stays steady at the top of the conference with another two weeks of strong team basketball. Since their Pac-12 opening win over UCLA, the Bruins have steamrolled USC, Washington, Washington State and Oregon State, all in impressive fashions. They’re finding new key contributors in players like freshman Payton Pritchard and junior Jordan Bell, which just adds to this team’s depth and balance.

2. UCLA Bruins (18-1)

Last Game: (W) 83-82 @ Utah | Streak: 5W

With their only loss on the season being a slip-up against Oregon, the scouting report for the Bruins hasn’t changed as they enter the last two months of regular season. UCLA is still a potent offensive machine, who despite almost getting clipped by Utah, is going to be one of the toughest outs all-season in the Pac-12. Saturday’s meeting with Arizona could be one of the best conference clashes all season long.

3. Arizona Wildcats (16-2)

Last Game: (W) 91-75 v. Arizona State | Streak: 10W

Since the beginning of conference play, Arizona has put their narrow loses to Butler and Gonzaga behind them and moved forward with an updated depth chart, thanks to a rash of injuries and strange circumstances that have afflicted this roster. The Wildcats have the right balance with five players averaging double-figures and Finnish forward Lauri Markkanen is quickly becoming one of the top talents in all of the Pac-12.

4. California Golden Bears (13-5)

Last Game: (W) 58-54 v. Washington State | Streak: 3W

With USC having fallen off since their 14-0 start to the season, California has now emerged as the main contender to the third-horse race atop the conference. The Golden Bears have only dropped Pac-12 games to UCLA and Arizona thus far but they’ll get another tough test when they travel to Eugene on Thursday night for a meeting with the Ducks.

5. Utah Utes (12-5)

Last Game: (L) 83-82 v. UCLA | Streak: 1L

Oh, Utah. The Utes were “oh so close” in their effort against UCLA, literally keeping the Bruins on the ropes even as the buzzer sounded. However, there’s no moral victories in college basketball and Utah showed why in a brutal one-point loss. The Utes will need to regroup during a two-game trip to the Evergreen State.

6. USC Trojans (16-3)

Last Game: (W) 71-68 @ Colorado | Streak: 1W

The Trojans came back to earth after an early conference loss to Oregon but the wheels fell off the wagon with back-to-back losses to California and Utah. This USC team has come a long way (and not in the right direction) since their 14-0 start. It’s not time to start panicking but Thursday night’s meeting with Arizona should be a strong indicator of this team’s future.

7. Arizona State Sun Devils (9-9)

Last Game: (L) 91-75 @ Arizona | Streak: 2L

It’s probably not the best time to be giving the Sun Devils the benefit of the doubt, considering a daunting road trip to the City of Angels awaits, but Arizona State feels like the type of team that’s ready to pull off a big upset. Torian Graham is as good of a guard as there is in the conference and he has the ability to propel this squad to a marquee win.

8. Stanford Cardinal (10-8)

Last Game: (W) 76-69 v. Washington | Streak: 2W

After an 0-4 start to their Pac-12 season, the Cardinal have regrouped and made the most of their last two match-ups with the Washington schools. Junior forward Reid Travis is slowly looking like the former McDonald’s All-American he once was but there’s a quantity over quality issue for Stanford. Head coach Jerod Haase needs to get some more Pac-12 quality guards on his roster.

9. Washington State Cougars (9-8)

Last Game: (L) 58-54 @ California | Streak: 3L

The Cougars started Pac-12 play on the right foot but have struggled since, dropping three straight games to the likes of Oregon, Stanford and California. For head coach Ernie Kent, it’s simply more depth that’s needed in Pullman, as Washington State is a tough mix of solid potential young talents and role players trying to do too much. It’ll be tough for the Cougars to find wins in a top-heavy Pac-12.

10. Colorado Buffaloes (10-8)

Last Game: (L) 71-68 v. USC | Streak: 5L

The Buffs looked to be a dark-horse contender in the conference coming into the season, but Colorado’s puzzling start to conference play has seen them reduced to near-Oregon State status. Head coach Tad Boyle’s guys have lost three of their five conference games by single-digits, meaning the Buffs have been hanging around but they need to learn to close games out.

11. Washington Huskies (8-9)

Last Game: (L) 76-69 @ Stanford | Streak: 2L

Another two weeks meant another slate of games that was a whole lot of Markelle Fultz and not a whole lot of much else for Washington. The freshman phenom had 34 points in a seven-point loss to Stanford, where only one other player in sophomore guard David Crisp even hit double-figures (10). The Huskies have a mix of trending opponents, in a surging Utah group and a fading Colorado team on the horizon.

12. Oregon State Beavers (4-14)

Last Game: (L) 85-43 @ Oregon | Streak: 5L

The sky seems to be falling in Corvallis. Tres Tinkle is likely done for the year. Drew Eubanks is battling an infection. The Beavers were just decimated by Oregon for their fifth straight conference loss and they’ve won just one game against Division I opponents (Kent State) since November 13th. This season can’t end soon enough for head coach Wayne Tinkle and company.