Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 3

Women's Basketball vs Sac State
Ayon Kabir/File

No. 1: Stanford

Stanford might as well be in a league of its own — like the women’s basketball version of an SEC football team. The No. 4 Cardinal (15-1, 6-0) are the only Pac-12 team that is ranked, and they top the conference leaderboards with an average of 80 points per game and a 22-point scoring margin. Stanford’s success is overwhelmingly the product of its offense; the defense flounders somewhere in the middle of the conference rankings. Led by Nnemkadi Ogwumike (who in turn leads the Pac-12 in points and rebounds), who averages an astounding 23 points per game, the Cardinal are certainly the team to beat in the conference. Whether that’s even possible remains to be seen.

— Annie Gerlach

No. 2: Cal

It should be noted that despite Cal being ranked at No. 2, that does not mean it is just tailing down Stanford for the top of the conference. Stanford’s in a class of its own, but that doesn’t mean that the Bears cannot topple its dominance one day. After opening the season with losses to UCLA and USC, Cal has won four straight. With depth at the post and well-rounded perimeter shooters in Layshia Clarendon and Lindsay Sherbert, the Bears have the recipe, if many things go right, to create a huge upset at Stanford on Jan. 28.

— Seung Y. Lee

No. 3: USC

USC comes in at third this week. The Trojans (9-6, 4-1) are coming off a four-win hot streak and three of which occurred on the road. A 9-6 overall record is nothing to boast about, but the fact that USC possesses the No. 3 toughest schedule in the country and has still managed to blow away a majority of its opponents sure is. So far, USC’s only conference loss was to Stanford at home at the end of December by only eight points. At this point in the season, the Trojans get a break from the breakneck competition and contend with the more mediocre Pac-12 teams. An extended win streak is certainly possible and could catapult the Trojans one rung higher.

— Annie Gerlach

No. 4: Colorado

There’s only two words you have to know about this Colorado team: Chucky Jeffery. As the heart and soul of this team, the junior guard is one of the most dynamic players in the conference, leading the team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. But even Jeffery cannot keep the Buffaloes afloat in the Pac-12 pool: Colorado has lost three of its four conference games, including a home game to Cal. With a huge away trip to Arizona this weekend, Jeffery and the Buffaloes will need to win to stay in the top half of the conference.

— Seung Y. Lee

No. 5: Washington State

Don’t let the records fool you. Washington State is a mediocre team that had a fair share of easy teams in its schedule to puff up the win tally. Despite their three wins against Oregon, Utah and Oregon State in double overtime, the Cougars are rather untested. They will have to prove themselves on this weekend’s trip to the Bay Area.

— Seung Y. Lee

No. 6: Arizona

The Wildcats (13-4, 2-3 Pac-12) are yet another example of a team with bloated and misleading overall record. Arizona beefed up its stats very early in the season, playing throwaway teams such as Wichita State (who?) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (huh?) in wins that looked flashy but carry little weight. As such, the Wildcats promptly crashed and burned their way to one of five 2-3 teams in the conference. And they still have to go 10 rounds with Cal, Stanford and USC, games that will undoubtedly tack on three more losses on the season.

— Annie Gerlach

No. 7: Arizona State

How does Arizona State post a 11-5 record when its offense is last in the conference? By having one of the best defenses in the conference. The Sun Devils dry out their opponents’ offense with a stifling defense, allowing only 52.5 points per game. Despite its losses to USC, UCLA and Oregon State, Arizona State can climb the conference rankings if it can give its defense some breathing room.

— Seung Y. Lee

No. 8: Oregon

Surprise, surprise, another team with a stellar overall record yet an abysmal Pac-12 one. Oregon (10-8, 2-4 Pac-12) won’t get a lucky break in the next week, as it travels south to face a formidable USC squad this Thursday. However, Jasmin Holliday comes in at No. 4 in the conference in point per game, undoubtedly the main force behind her team’s second-place offense. But it takes more than one standout to carry a team, and certainly more than a last-place defense to see a winning season.

— Annie Gerlach

No. 9: Oregon State

Oregon State (11-6, 2-4) more or less ushers in the very bottom of the conference. A slightly worse losing record than the deadlock at 2-3 above it yet a slightly better record than the abysmal 1-4 Utah, the Beavers have done nothing to impress thus far in the season. Actually, strike that: Oregon State leads the conference in blocked shots — not that that stat can translate into a win for this particular team.

— Annie Gerlach

No. 10: Washington

The only reason Washington slides in one rung above UCLA is because this early in the conference season we’re placing more weight on overall records. The Huskies (10-5, 2-3 Pac-12) have found comfort in mediocrity, though senior Regina Rogers has a stellar enough shooting rate from the field (65 percent) to rank first in the Pac-12. A bright star in an otherwise forgettable team.

— Annie Gerlach

No. 11: UCLA

It’s hard to fault UCLA for its 7-9 record when it had to play against No. 1 Baylor, No. 4 Stanford and No. 9 Tennessee. After falling precipitously from its top-10 ranking last season, the Bruins and their new coach Cori Close are trying to right their ship with a group of young underclassmen like guard Thea Lemberger. But this project may take a couple of years to get UCLA to its national prominence.

— Seung Y. Lee

No. 12: Utah

Utah. 8-8 overall (the only team with a worse record is UCLA). 1-4 in the conference. ‘Nuff said.

— Annie Gerlach