Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 8 (Song Edition)

Justin Cobbs, Allen Crabbe and the Bears are first in the Pac-12 but do not receive much respect nationally.
Michael Gethers/Staff
Justin Cobbs, Allen Crabbe and the Bears are first in the Pac-12 but do not receive much respect nationally.

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For our antepenultimate Pac-12 Power Rankings of the men’s basketball season, we have decided to go a different route — a different octave, if you will. We have chosen a song to correspond with each team on our list. Enjoy.

No. 1: California (22-6, 12-3) — Aretha Franklin, “Respect”

The Bears probably have more in common with Rodney Dangerfield than the Queen of Soul: they don’t get no respect. That’s really all the Cal men’s basketball needs. The Bears already have 22 wins, and if they win their next three, they’ll take the inaugural Pac-12 championship. Cal has 11 votes in the AP poll, 21 in ESPN/USA Today poll. Still, the squad might need that conference title to go dancing, and even then it’s no sure thing. Five consecutive wins and still the Bears are only a nine seed in ESPN’s bracket predictions. All they’re asking for is a little respect. Just a little bit.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 2: Washington (19-8, 12-3) — Coldplay, “Don’t Panic”

The Huskies are tied for first in the Pac-12, a game and a half ahead of second-place Colorado. They’ve won three in a row and eight of their last nine. Washington is one win away from 20 with three more regular season games to go, plus at least one Pac-12 tournament game. Yet, the team’s RPI is a woeful 52, which is 22 spots behind Cal. The Huskies’ strength of schedule, 68, isn’t horrible, but they didn’t beat anybody. Close losses to Marquette and Duke are still just losses. Still, they control their own fate. So don’t panic, Washington fans. If your team keeps winning, it should make the tournament.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 3: Oregon (18-8, 9-5) — Whitney Houston, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”

Two games out of first place, Oregon has dropped three Pac-12 games by five points or fewer. A one-point loss to Colorado ended in a controversial free-throw frenzy. A five-point loss to Oregon State ended with the Ducks blow a 14-point lead at home. A three-point loss to Cal ended as Devoe Joseph’s career-high 33 fell one trey short of overtime.

Oregon gets another shot at the Buffs and Beavers, but even sweeping its last three games may not get it the conference title.

— Jack Wang

No. 4: Arizona (19-9, 10-5) — Queen, “Put Out the Fire”

A trip to Seattle doused the Wildcats’ recent hot streak, capping their run at five games. Washington sent Arizona spinning, shooting sub-20 percent from beyond the arc but nevertheless stomping out the visiting team’s excitement. Coach Sean Miller still has a faint chance of winning a back-to-back regular season title, but his team no longer controls its own destiny. If the Wildcats end up singing a different Queen song, they’ll be doing it after the Pac-12 Tournament.

— Jack Wang

No. 5: Colorado (18-8, 10-4) — John Denver, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

Colorado wishes it could play every game in Boulder. The Buffs haven’t lost at home at all since Dec. 9 — a 65-54 hiccup against Wyoming. They’ve yet to drop a home conference game, their hosting prowess balancing lackluster road results: The combined Pac-12 record of their road win opponents is 7-36.

But with four games left on the schedule, it’s unlikely that Colorado will raise the conference’s inaugural banner. After hosting Stanford and Cal, the Buffs must swing up to the Northwest to face Oregon and Oregon State — two teams still smarting off losses at Coors Events Center. Here’s guessing that Colorado won’t prove it belongs at the top.

— Jack Wang

No. 6: UCLA (15-12, 8-6) — The Band, “The Weight”

On Monday, Cal forward David Kravish was talking about matching up with stronger, more physical big men in the conference. “Go up against Josh Smith,” he said of UCLA’s center, “and it’s a completely different monster.”

The Bruins’ sophomore is indeed monstrous in size, listed at 6-foot-10, 305 pounds, though he looks to be closer to 350. If he was in better in shape, so would his team. The departure of Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt to the NBA Draft put the load right on Smith to carry the team. But he came back to school in the fall having gained weight! His numbers — 10.4 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game — are as impressive as he is thin. With his size and soft touch, Smith should be a dominant force. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Smith can’t seem to stay on the floor. He has committed 82 fouls (3.15 per game), significantly more than any of his teammates. As a result, he’s averaging just 18.3 minutes per game. Without him clogging the lane offensively and getting beat by his man defensively, UCLA often looks better when he’s not on the floor.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 7: Stanford (18-8, 8-6) — U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”

The Cardinal haven’t knocked off a team above .500 in Pac-12 play since it blew out Colorado on Jan. 14. Since then, Stanford has lost six games by an average of 10.5 points. Little encouragement can be found in its three wins. Victories over USC and Arizona State are little consolation for a team once tied for first place, while Oregon State is one of the few teams more disappointing than the Cardinal.

Of sole importance now is pride, and Stanford can still salvage that in their season finale by holding off Cal, winners of five straight. Now that would be some mountain to climb.

— Jack Wang

No. 8: Washington State (14-13, 6-9) — Enrique Iglesias, “Hero”

Hey, Washington State. Brock Motum won’t stand by you forever — the 6-foot-9 forward has one more year of eligibility — but he’ll certainly try and kiss away the pain. You’re mired in a lackluster season and lost your sixth man a week after earning conference honors, but Motum can still make you swoon. If the Australian accent won’t do it, how about 24.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 60 percent shooting? That’s his line through the past seven games, three of them wins.

So Cougars, here’s the real question: Would you Dance if he asked you to Dance? That is, if you could afford tickets.

— Jack Wang

No. 9: Oregon State (15-12, 5-10) David Bowie, “Under Pressure”

The Beavers’ pressure is twofold. On the one hand, Oregon State is under pressure to win. The squad has played too many close games — by two points to Vanderbilt, by two points to Stanford (in four overtimes) by three points to Washington. The Beavers’ record doesn’t reflect how challenging the team can. The 1-3-1 trap defense can give opposing teams fits, putting pressure on opposing point guards.

Meanwhile, coach Craig Robinson might be under some pressure; in his four years in Corvallis with some coveted high recruits, OSU has yet to finish with a winning record. Roberto Nelson, for instance, was a highly-touted four-star recruit, but the sophomore averages single-digit scoring and has yet to start a game this season.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 10: Arizona State (8-19, 4-11) — Amy Winehouse, “You Know I’m No Good”

ASU has used 10 different starting lineups this season, none of them any more effective than the others. The Sun Devils dismissed leading scorer Keala King for “unacceptable conduct” weeks ago, and no one has truly filled the offensive void since. Rehab isn’t going too well either; Rivals.com currently ranks Herb Sendek’s 2012 recruiting class as the second-worst in the conference.

— Jack Wang

No. 11: USC (6-21, 1-13) — The Commodores, “Brick House”

The 1977 Motown hit aptly describes the Trojans’ shooting. USC’s .391 field goal percentage is the worst in the Pac-12 and ranks 328th in the country (out of 344 teams). The Trojans’ best player, Maurice Jones, can’t even break 30 percent from the 3-point line — and he’s the best shooter on the team. It’s no surprise USC has won just one game in the last 64 days.

The Commodores had twice as many Billboard No. 1 hits as USC has Pac-12 wins. “Brick House” was not one of those songs.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 12: Utah (5-21, 2-12) — Ray Charles, “Born To Lose”

The Utes have lost seven in a row and don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. They host Cal and Stanford this weekend before traveling to Oregon for the regular season’s final week. Best prediction for Utah’s remaining four games — 0-4. It’s probably a little harsh to put Ray Charles’ melancholy ballad as the Utes’ song, but if any college basketball team fits the bill, it’s Utah. This is a major conference  — a Big Six conference, no less — team that has five wins on the season.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

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