1. Oregon Ducks (4-0)
The Ducks have gelled quickly for a team finding new pieces to rely on across the board. Their season opening victories over two Mountain West foes in Fresno State and Boise State were solid and their defeat of Memphis with James Wiseman showed how good this team can be in the long run. A Friday meeting with Houston before their trip to Atlantis next week screams trap game.
2. Arizona Wildcats (4-0)
The depth on this Wildcats squad is what makes them not only a fun team to watch, but a very dangerous one that should contend for a Pac-12 crown. The freshmen trio of Zeke Nnaji, Nico Mannion and Josh Green have been stellar so far and while some familiar faces have fallen into lesser roles, they’ll find their time as the season progresses. The dream is alive again in Tucson.
3. UCLA Bruins (3-0)
The Maui Jim Maui Invitational around Thanksgiving should be the first true tests of the season for the Bruins, that begins with BYU and could include the likes of Kansas and more. UCLA has really taken a much-needed breath of fresh air with Mick Cronin at the helm and seems to be a group that’s put the quirky Steve Alford era behind them. There’s a surplus of potential on this roster.
4. USC Trojans (4-0)
As he showed in the preseason, freshman Onyeka Okongwu has been stellar for USC, taking a lot of the pressure off of veteran forward Nick Rakocevic in a loaded USC front-court. The Trojans schedule is nothing to write home about so it’ll be a bit longer before the world can get an accurate gauge on this team. USC looks like a team that can battle with the best. Only time will tell.
5. Washington Huskies (2-1)
Washington’s season opening win over Baylor should age nicely, as the Bears could grow into contenders in the Big 12. However, their letdown loss at the hands of Tennessee will be hard to digest. The Huskies are defending again, yet they need to find more options on the offensive end. This team is currently too top heavy, led by Naz Carter, Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels.
6. Colorado Buffaloes (2-0)
The league’s biggest enigma remains just that, as Tad Boyle’s unit has taken care of business on their slow scheduling bit to begin the campaign. When things do pick up over the next month, the Buffs will travel to Kansas, arch rival Colorado State and Dayton, in addition to some under-the-radar mid-major contests. Colorado has a lot to prove to themselves during this time.
7. Utah Utes (3-0)
A 143-point offensive display against Mississippi Valley State helped to put the Utes on a great statistical level nationally. They currently rank first in the country in rebounding, third in points per game and fifth in assists per contest. Five players are averaging double-digits in scoring and two more sit not too far off. Maybe Utah is a bit more electric of a team than they may appear.
8. Oregon State Beavers (3-1)
Beaver Nation shouldn’t have too many early season complaints, outside of another stretch of offensive inferiority at crucial points in their loss to Oklahoma. Oregon State’s non-conference slate is very manageable, meaning Wayne Tinkle’s depth chart could hit the start of league play in January with some serious wind in their sails. The Beavers just can’t afford any letdowns.
9. Arizona State Sun Devils (2-1)
The Sun Devils dropped their China-based season opener to Colorado in the league’s strangest meeting of non-Pac-12 opponents for a day. This Saturday, Arizona State will travel to Connecticut to battle with St. John’s in a huge showdown for Bobby Hurley and company. This has been probably the hardest squad in the league to gauge so far. Some clarity may be coming soon.
10. Stanford Cardinal (4-0)
The early strength of the Pac-12 will make a team like Stanford wonder what they’ve done wrong to be ranked so low. The Cardinal hit the ground running out of the gate and have looked to be a unit that could be sneakily good in league play. The surprise emergence of freshman guard Tyrell Terry may keep the Cardinal with an unbeaten mark when they run into Oklahoma next week.
11. California Golden Bears (3-0)
There’s nothing wrong with California just yet, however even Mark Fox knows it won’t be smooth sailing for too much longer in Berkeley. No, I’m not talking about the Golden Bears clash with Prairie View A&M on Tuesday, but instead the looming 2K Classic in New York City that will test this group against Duke and either Texas or Georgetown. Storm clouds may be on the horizon.
12. Washington State Cougars (2-1)
After seeing how good the Cougars looked in their 31-point beating of Seattle, it was quite surprising to see Washington State slip up at the hands of Santa Clara just five days later. The Broncos aren’t a bad mid-major squad, but Kyle Smith looked to have things rolling and then went backwards. With a win over Omaha, the Cougars can be 3-1 heading into a battle with Nebraska.