1. Arizona Wildcats (13-4)
Winners of their last six straight, including their first four Pac-12 contests, Arizona deserves the spot at the top for the time being. No, the Wildcats haven’t played the toughest schedule thus far but the emergence of Duke transfer Chase Jeter into the player that everyone believed he could be has really changed things for Sean Miller and company in Tucson.
2. Washington Huskies (12-4)
Since their lost to Virginia Tech back on December 15th, the Huskies have not only gone a full calendar month without losing, but also have looked like a much more focused and mature group. Depth could become an issue for this group in the long-term, as Washington relies on only about seven key players but in the wild Pac-12 this season, you just have to pick your battles.
3. Arizona State Sun Devils (11-5)
The Sun Devils roller-coaster start to the conference play seems eerily reminiscent of the past with Bobby Hurley, as the team’s strong non-league showing begin to fall apart. Oregon State fans will probably want this third spot taken by the red-hot Beavers, but the two will get the final bragging rights on Thursday night in an increasingly enticing Pac-12 showdown.
4. Oregon State Beavers (11-4)
Even here at Building The Dam, we surely didn’t envision this type of league start for the Beavers, after a pedestrian beginning of the season that included losses to Kent State and Saint Louis. This may be Oregon State’s best team since Gary Payton II led the squad to an NCAA Tournament in 2016, pending they continue to exert the same level of effort and focus going forward.
5. UCLA Bruins (10-7)
The change in leadership from former head coach Steve Alford to current interim program director Murry Bartow seemed to instantly recharge this Bruins group for a bit. However, we’ve all read this story before. Bartow will have to guide the Bruins through a cross-town road trip to USC and then have his team prove their worth in consecutive meetings against the Arizona schools.
6. Oregon Ducks (10-6)
A wealth of injuries, most specifically the one to freshman phenom Bol Bol, have really derailed the early excitement that surrounded this Oregon squad. Yet, the Ducks were still right there against UCLA - until they blew a record-setting lead in the final minute - just days after dropping a key Civil War contest against rival Oregon State. Dana Altman needs to right the ship in Eugene.
7. Utah Utes (8-8)
Utah deserves some credit for going on the road and knocking off Arizona State, but it was unfortunate that they couldn’t follow that strong victory up with some more eye-catching wins. The Utes do look like a solid team though and they might be one of the few teams that actually benefit from the league being in an all-time weak spot. Don’t count Utah out of any game this season.
8. Stanford Cardinal (8-8)
If moral victories counted in college basketball than Stanford would be sitting pretty towards the top of the league. However, great efforts against great teams don’t matter all that much when the win doesn’t end up on the left side of your record. The Cardinal aren’t far off but they may not have enough chances left to pick their spots. It could be a weird next few weeks for Stanford.
9. USC Trojans (9-8)
This ranking is half-based on USC’s recent string of play (which includes back-to-back losses) and half-based on the situation surrounding star Kevin Porter Jr., who after returning from injury for the Trojans has now been suspended by head coach Andy Enfield. My gut tells me that this Porter Jr. situation could be a season long saga, which hampers the potential of this group.
10. Colorado Buffaloes (10-6)
If you don’t allow the Buffs overall record to fool you too bad, Colorado has really done nothing all that impressive so far this season. The team’s best win is a three-point beating of a currently 8-8 New Mexico squad at The Pit and they’ve squandered every big opportunity they’ve had to show something special. Three straight road games do await the Buffs on the horizon, as well.
11. Washington State Cougars (7-9)
Washington State and California are fighting hard for the bottom spot, with the edge still going to the Golden Bears for the time being. The Cougars are in the midst of their own six-game losing streak and they haven’t won in almost a month, when they last beat SIU-Edwardsville. On Thursday night, they’ll meet the Golden Bears in the ultimate battle of the basement.
12. California Golden Bears (5-11)
You never like to bring up the hot seat conversation in the middle of the season, but head coach Wyking Jones has to be feeling the temperature rising in Berkeley. Jones is no way in an ideal situation at California with the roster turnover after Cuonzo Martin left Missouri but a 13-34 overall mark at the school is hard to explain. The Golden Bears have to salvage this season on the fly.