1. Oregon Ducks (16-5, 11-4)
Oregon has won seven of their last eight and the Ducks could somehow go from the conference’s COVID-19 nightmare program to the league’s best chance to make a run in March. Guard Chris Duarte is as underrated as they come nationally and forward Eugene Omoruyi isn’t far behind.
2. UCLA Bruins (17-6, 13-4)
If UCLA wants the Pac-12 regular season crown, they’re going to have to earn it to say the least. The Bruins just finished up the Utah/Colorado road swing and now split home and away meetings between Oregon and USC to round out their slate. Jaime Jaquez’ development has been stellar.
3. USC Trojans (19-6, 13-5)
Dropping three of their last four contests in total have sent USC from the top of the Pac-12 to a half-game back of rival foe UCLA for the role of the top dog in the league. I was very high on this Trojans group and now need some answers. Stanford and at the Bruins will give them two tests.
4. Colorado Buffaloes (19-7, 13-6)
Another shoot for the moon Pac-12 squad, when Colorado is on, the Buffs can stand toe-to-toe with just about anyone in the country. When they’re off, their power conference level balance fades to mid-major mediocrity. Forget a conference napper, Colorado is an NCAA Tournament sleeper.
5. Arizona Wildcats (17-8, 11-8)
My darkhorse pick to cause a whole heap of sleepless nights in the Pac-12 Tournament, the mix of an Arizona team who knew they would need time to find cohesion and the recent play of one of Jim Boeheim’s favorite guards in James Akinjo has the Wildcats looming as a darkhorse.
6. Oregon State Beavers (13-11, 9-9)
Beaver Nation...Wayne Tinkle’s crew have won three of their last four contests overall and Oregon State looks like this team could actually find the next step in the development of their program. If transfers are the way of the future, this group showed it’s been a solid start to a new era.
7. Stanford Cardinal (14-11, 10-9)
Oscar da Silva may be trying to win the Pac-12 Player of the Year award in the style of 2011 Peyton Manning, as when he’s not in the line-up for the Cardinal, the you know what really hits the fan. Ziaire Williams seems to be settling in too, leaving him with an intriguing NBA decision soon.
8. Arizona State Sun Devils (10-11, 7-8)
Maybe, just maybe, Remy Martin can raise some eyebrows in the desert just one time. His late-game heroics against Washington State added another highlight to a long reel of plays that will hard to forget. Love or loathe him, Martin has been a treasure to watch. He will be missed.
9. Utah Utes (10-11, 7-10)
Before stunning (and I mean stunning) USC, Utah had let four games go by the wayside, with three of those battles coming away from home. The Utes really like living around Timmy Allen and Alfonso Plummer at the top of the roster, yet they’re out of time to find more depth in early March.
10. Washington State Cougars (14-12, 7-12)
The Cougars have caught the Stanford rollercoaster bug, where they once they start playing well, the wheels fall off the wagon and vice versa. I haven’t been able to gauge this Washington State all year and it’s no different as March approaches. How about Noah Williams’ growth though?
11. Washington Huskies (5-20, 4-16)
When you’ve won just one game away from home all season, the moral victories come a whole lot easier than the actual wins. There’s been moments of breakthrough cohesion and flow, yet in general, it’s been a rough go of things. The Huskies are definitely waiting for the season to end.
12. California Golden Bears (8-19, 3-17)
It’s back to the basement for the Golden Bears, as four straight losses have solidified the fact that California has grabbed just one win since their stunning upset at Utah on January 16th. Mark Fox’s crew usually gives a valiant effort, but this team is too top heavy to find consistency.