1. Arizona State Sun Devils (9-2)
Arizona State’s win over #1 Kansas will go down as one of the best victories in all of college basketball this season, as the Sun Devils did what the rest of the Pac-12 just couldn’t do...win the big game. Bobby Hurley’s squad has taken the personality of their coach, with a completely fearless, yet well-orchestrated approach to the game. The Sun Devils are rocking.
2. Arizona Wildcats (9-4)
Moral victories and the Arizona program will never go hand-in-hand, but there have been a lot of hard-fought losses that leave the Wildcats as likely the second-best team in the league. Arizona has a likeable first four contests in Pac-12 play, which may help them assert their ability to emerge as legitimate conference contenders, despite a roster upheaval this off-season.
3. Washington Huskies (8-4)
In their big litmus tests this season (Auburn, Minnesota, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech), Washington has done nothing special to prove they’re the real deal. However, with the rest of the conference in the state of chaos, the Huskies aren’t a bad bet at the moment. With their strong defense anchoring a developing roster, Mike Hopkins’ boys may be in for a positive swing.
4. Oregon Ducks (8-4)
Sans a mid-November victory over Syracuse (which is looking the lesser by the day), Oregon (like everyone else) has failed in all their chances to emerge as a real-deal, bonafide national noise-maker. The Ducks rely more on their freshmen than most any big-name squad (outside UCLA) in the league, which leaves some hope in Eugene that brighter days are ahead.
5. UCLA Bruins (7-5)
By default, yes, UCLA will take the #5 spot. The Bruins are on a three-game losing skid, have blown every chance they’ve had against big-time competition, have a coach on the hot seat once again and sport a mismatched collection of freshmen with little cohesion. The good news? Their defeats have only come at the hands of teams that will likely be in the field of 68.
6. Utah Utes (6-5)
The Utes take a big leap for this edition of the Power Rankings and have the potential to shake up the college basketball landscape, if they can muster a huge upset of Nevada on Saturday afternoon. Utah blew opportunities against Kentucky, BYU and Northwestern, but are coming off back-to-back victories over Florida A&M and Northern Arizona in the last week.
7. Colorado Buffaloes (8-3)
Tad Boyle’s group had a really rough showing down at the Diamond Head Classic, dropping tight games to Indiana State and Hawaii, which negated an 8-1 start to the season. However, McKinley Wright IV is having a strong sophomore outing, Tyler Bey and Lucas Siewert are taking big leaps from last season and newcomers Shane Gatling and Evan Battey both look strong.
8. USC Trojans (6-6)
If USC responded with some fight against Santa Clara, their three-straight losses to Nevada, TCU and Oklahoma could’ve been a bit more justified. Yet, the Trojans let the bad vibes roll over into a mid-major road trip to visit the Broncos and in overtime, gave a winnable contest away. USC will need to “restart” their rough season when the conference slate begins in January.
9. Oregon State Beavers (7-4)
The Beavers have let three of their last four go because that’s been the way of the league so far this season and as always, when it rains in the Pac-12, it simply has to pour. The heartbreaking truth of Oregon State’s slip-ups is that their last three defeats have come by a combined 10 points, and on the year, they’ve lost four contests by an average of 4 points per game.
10. Stanford Cardinal (6-5)
It would been easy to put the Cardinal higher on this list, but their loss on the road to San Francisco ruined a streak of four out of five victories for Stanford. It’s easy to think that this young nucleus of talents on this team will develop comfortably as the season progresses but the room for error has run out. The Cardinal need to start winning sooner rather than later.
11. Washington State Cougars (7-5)
What more can be said at this point about Washington State? The Cougars have to be rethinking the decision to hold onto - and extend the contract of - head coach Ernie Kent, as the program just continues to be lifeless, uninspired and full of roster turmoil. Washington State’s best victory this season may end up being a 94-80 win over a Rider squad that’s currently 5-6.
12. California Golden Bears (5-6)
California and Washington State have secured their spot as the resident cellar-dwellers up to this point in the season, as both teams have their fair share of disappointing losses and confusing results. The Golden Bears absolutely cannot slip up against Seattle like Washington State did earlier this season, before they travel to USC to begin their Pac-12 slate.