1. Oregon Ducks (8-1)
With the weekend’s victory over Stanford, the Ducks have now won eight straight games since starting their seasons with a loss to Missouri, a result that doesn’t look all that confounding anymore. The Pac-12 has been a complete mess of high and lows. All except Oregon.
2. Arizona Wildcats (9-1)
Since losing to Stanford in their Pac-12 opener, Arizona has rattled off four-straight wins, including what could be the game of the year in the league with their double-overtime victory over Washington State. Swingman Bennedict Mathurin is the conference’s newest star in waiting.
3. UCLA Bruins (7-2)
Mick Cronin has clearly made league play an emphasis of how the Bruins will take care of business and while UCLA has done no wrong - they’ve held off Utah and Colorado - the loss of star Chris Smith to a season-ending ACL injury is something you have to figure into their ranking.
4. Washington State Cougars (8-1)
Sorry, Gonzaga. Washington State may be stealing the moniker of “America’s Team” as much like a Northwestern football squad, these are a bunch of guys that nobody is too familiar with that are proving their ability to play with the best. “Nerdball” is cool in Pullman. No truckstops here.
5. Colorado Buffaloes (7-3)
Roll damn Tad. Colorado is finding a lot of different ways to get the job done, including unique line-ups amid all the shake-ups of this college basketball season. It’s not always pretty for the Buffs, but when all pieced together, they can be a very difficult team to handle with their versatility.
6. USC Trojans (6-2)
One of those teams still trying to figure out who exactly they are, USC seems to have an on-again, off-again love affair with forward Evan Mobley. They can win without the freshman - which is great - but they can’t become a group playing just for him. The talent on this roster is too good.
7. Stanford Cardinal (5-3)
The Cardinal had a four-game winning streak heading into their first game of 2021, which ended in a blowout at the hands of Oregon. Meetings with Oregon State, Washington and Washington State are now all on the horizon, as potentially winnable contests with the right effort and focus.
8. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-3)
It’s not really valuable in trying to gauge a team who hasn’t played since December 16th so Bobby Hurley’s group will have to move the needle themselves when they return to action on January 7th against UCLA. A ten-point loss to UTEP still hangs over this Sun Devils groups’ heads.
9. Utah Utes (4-3)
Games at home against Oregon State and Oregon this week may be huge for the Utes, who haven’t battled with much avail against any type of strong competition. Utah is Utah. They don’t change much from season to season, yet Larry K even knows this group isn’t one of his bests.
10. Oregon State Beavers (5-3)
The balance of the Beavers this season has been better than in year’s past, but it’s still guard Ethan Thompson’s show when it comes down to it and he’ll need the pieces around him to keep developing. If Oregon State wants to be a mover and shaker in the league, consistency is key.
11. California Golden Bears (5-6)
Tough guard Matt Bradley was injured against Oregon State and sure, the Golden Bears will need their leading scorer back in the mix if they want to turn their season around, but the sky isn’t falling in Berkeley just yet. Stealing wins through the course of Pac-12 play won’t be easy though.
12. Washington Huskies (1-7)
Not since Steve Blass has the yips run it’s course like it’s done to Washington over the past two seasons. The Huskies won 48 of 70 games from 2017-2019. Since then? Washington has gone 16-24, including a brutal 5-16 in league play. Mike Hopkins can’t seem to get this thing right.