The Pac-12 Women’s Basketball schedule kicks off this Friday with every team starting conference play. So now is a good time to rank the teams going into the opening weekend and look at our choice of early superlatives.
1. Oregon (#10 in AP, 11-2)
The Ducks are the conference’s highest ranked team and have one of the nation’s best players in Sabrina Ionescu. They are the nation’s fifth highest scoring team and their two losses are to top-five ranked teams that have yet to lose.
2. UCLA (#11 in AP, 9-2)
UCLA hosts the conference’s most dynamic duo in Jordin Canada (Pac-12 leader in steals per game, second in assists) and Monique Billings (second in rebounds per game). They own a win over a top-ten team in Baylor, while one of their losses is to the top team in the nation, Conneticut.
3. Oregon State (#17 in AP, 9-2)
Like Oregon, Oregon State has two losses to ranked teams. In the nation they rank in the top-five statistics for assists per game, field goal percentage, three point percentage, field goal defense percentage, and fewest fouls per game.
4. California (#20 in AP, 9-2)
California also only has two losses to ranked teams, though their loss to Connecticut was not as respectable as UCLA’s, losing by 35. One of the best players in the conference, Kristine Anigwe, ranks third in the conference for both scoring and rebounding.
5. Arizona State (RV in AP, 9-3)
The Sun Devils suffered three losses away from home to ranked teams. Those losses were all respectable and may help give this team the experience they need to contend in this conference.
6. Stanford (RV in AP, 6-6)
You may be wondering how a 6-6 team is still receiving votes in the AP Poll. Well one, it’s Stanford, and they can never be counted out. And two, five of their six losses have come against ranked teams. Look for Tara VanDerveer to right the ship.
7. USC (RV in AP, 10-1)
Just two points shy of an undefeated record, USC finds themselves knocking on the door of the top-25 rankings. They haven’t defeated any big names though, and that appears to have hurt them there. The Trojans may come up just short of breaking the top 25 as the rigors of conference play is around the corner.
8. Colorado (NR, 9-2)
The Buffs find themselves as one of the eight Pac-12 teams with at least nine wins on the season. They still have the dynamic Kennedy Leonard who is among the leaders of the conference points (sixth), assists (second), and steals (third).
9. Utah (NR, 9-2)
The tandem of starting forwards Emily Potter and Megan Huff each lead the Utes at roughly 13.5 points and eight rebounds per game. This team has some serious rebounding capabilities as they rank just behind Oregon State and Colorado in rebounding margin.
10. Washington State (NR, 7-5)
After starting the season 1-4, the Cougars have gone 6-1 to give them some momentum heading into conference play. This team relies on second opportunities as the lead the league in offensive rebounds.
11. Washington (NR, 6-5)
The Huskies are getting used to life without Kelsey Plum to help them outscore opponents, especially when those teams are averaging over 76 points a game against you (yikes!). They are also the only Pac-12 team with a negative rebounding margin.
12. Arizona (NR, 4-7)
Owner of the only losing record in the conference, Arizona ranks last in assists with nearly 30 less than the 11th team. Interestingly, six-foot freshman forward Sam Thomas leads the league in rebounds (nine per game) and minutes; it will be interesting to see if she can keep that up.
Player of the Year
Sabrina Ionescu, G, Oregon - How could it not be Ionescu? She is a threat to go for a triple-double nearly every game. The Ducks top player leads the league in assist, second in scoring, and fifth for steals. Just a sophomore, she already has the conference’s most triple-doubles in a career, and is just one from the national record. Oh yeah, she has also won half of the conference’s player of the week awards.
Defensive Player of the Year
Marie Gulich, F, Oregon State - Will Oregon State be home to the conference’s best defensive player for the fourth straight year? We might be biased, but if Gulich can keep this pace, then it’s possible. The lone Beaver senior leads the conference in blocks by a full block per game over the next closest player. She is also tied for fifth in rebounds per game on the league’s best defensive team.
Freshman of the Year
Annika Jank, F, Colorado - Jank leads all freshmen with three freshman of the week awards. She also leads the conference’s freshmen class in scoring at 14.9 per game (which is also good for 11th overall) and is second with 8.3 rebounds a game (8th overall).
All-Pac-12 First Team
Sabrina Ionescu, G, Oregon
Jordin Canada, G, UCLA
Kristine Anigwe, F, California
Kristen Simon, F, USC
Monique Billings, F, UCLA
All-Pac-12 Second Team
Mikayla Pivec, G, Oregon State
Kennedy Leonard, G, Colorado
Alanna Smith, F, Stanford
Marie Gulich, F, Oregon State
Ruthy Hebard, F, Oregon