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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 7

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FEBRUARY 14, 2012

No. 1: California (20-6, 10-3)

The Bears picked the right time to complete their first road sweep of the Pac-12 season. They had fallen from their first-place perch after falling to Arizona at home. Given the state of the Pac-12, winning the conference is Cal’s best chance at making the NCAA tournament. So what do the Bears do? They go down to Los Angeles and sweep the season series with both L.A. teams for the first time in like a gazillion years. If that wasn’t enough, Washington lost on Thursday, meaning the Bears are back to being tied for first.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 2: Arizona (18-8, 9-4)

Home wins over Utah and Colorado aren’t particularly impressive, but the Wildcats move up as other teams in the conference stumble. Taking care of business at the McKale Center puts Arizona on a four-game winning streak; if Sean Miller’s squad can extend it to six with a road sweep in the state of Washington, an at-large tourney bid becomes a more realistic possibility.

— Jack Wang

No. 3: Oregon (18-7, 9-4)

Could the Ducks realistically make the NCAA tournament? If they knock off another first-place team this week, they just might. Although upsetting Cal in Berkeley is unlikely, Oregon has far exceeded expectations this season, especially after Thursday’s demolition a Washington squad that was alone in first place. Beat Cal, and the Ducks could run the table. All that’s left on the schedule is Stanford (lost five of its last seven), Oregon State (rivalry games are always a toss-up) and visits from Colorado (can’t win on the road) and Utah (can’t win anywhere).

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 4: Washington (17-8, 10-3)

A loss for the first-place Huskies, even on the road to a strong Oregon squad, was sort of surprising. Getting routed by 25 points — that’s downright embarrassing. The Ducks scored 12 of the game’s first 14 points. There was a nearly five-minute stretch towards the end of the first half in which Washington did not score. In 40 minutes, the Huskies took 16 threes; they made two. They were almost as bad from the charity stripe, shooting 38.9 percent (7-of-18). Washington is back at home this weekend but must face a red-hot Arizona on Saturday.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 5: Colorado (17-8, 9-4)

Few players in the Pac-12 are more fun to watch than Andre Roberson. The sophomore guard-turned-forward is Mr. Clean on the glass, raw athleticism packed throughout his lanky 6-foot-7 frame as it flings around the paint. The conference’s top rebounder (11 per game) also oozes potential on defense; he averages 1.92 blocks per contest and has swatted 12 through his past three games. It’s a shame Roberson hasn’t further refined his offensive skill set; he’s uncomfortable creating his own shot, relying mostly on hustle points and the odd 3-point attempt. If he ever does, Colorado program will have itself a foundational star.

— Jack Wang

No. 6: UCLA (14-11, 7-6)

The Bruins are going to miss their second NCAA tournament in three years. Ben Howland’s squad won’t be getting an at-large bid, and its chances at receiving the automatic bid are slim. The teams with the best four conference records get a bye in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. Saturday’s loss to Cal put UCLA at 7-6 in the Pac-12, tied with Stanford looking up at five other teams in the standings. The Bruins are not going to win four straight games at Staples Center.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 7: Stanford (17-8, 7-6)

The Cardinal have lost five of their past seven games since starting off conference play 5-1. Their past two wins have come against teams that combine for six Pac-12 wins. Stanford did sweep USC for the first time since 2005, but that’s petty consolation for a team that was once atop the conference. Say, how does that Tom Petty song go again?

— Jack Wang

No. 8: Washington State (13-12, 5-8)

The Cougars jumped on the Beavers last Thursday, shooting 51.9 percent to earn their first true road win in Pac-12 play. They had averaged 41.3 percent from the field in the preceding four games, a stretch began with the loss of valuable sixth man Faisal Aden. A Saturday loss to Oregon knocked WSU down to an even 2-2 split in February, but forward Brock Motum’s offensive tear (25.2 points over five games) is keeping his team just outside the cellar door.

— Jack Wang

No. 9: Oregon State (15-10, 5-8)

A close loss is still a loss. The Beavers have learned that much this season. They’ve had a total of five overtimes in Pac-12 play, and six of their eight losses were by 10 points or less. The latest was by three points to Washington. Guard Jared Cunningham scored a game-high 23 points, but Oregon State allowed the Huskies to get to the free throw line 35 times.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 10: Arizona State (8-17, 4-9)

On Thursday, the Sun Devils avenged perhaps the lowest point of their 8-16 season — losing to Utah. (Arizona State’s 21-point loss Jan. 21 in Salt Lake City is the Utes’ only win this year!) In Tempe, ASU had the benefit of playing with its best player, Trent Lockett, who had missed the previous six games. He played 36 minutes and scored 12 points in the 57-52 win.

— Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 11: USC (6-20, 1-12)

The sinking Trojans still tread above the already-submerged Utes, but mostly by virtue of winning their head-to-head matchup. Double-digit losses to Stanford and Cal surprised no one; without three preseason starters, double-digit losses have been a USC regularity for weeks now. An outside shot to jump rival UCLA approaches Wednesday, but outside shots aren’t the Trojans’ forte — they shoot 3-pointers at a conference-worst .279 clip.

— Jack Wang

No. 12: Utah (5-20, 2-11)

Only one player managed at least 10 points against Arizona State, and Utah lost by five. The Utes then held red-hot Arizona to 42.9 percent shooting while draining exactly half their shots; they still lost by nine. The roster is thankfully devoid of philosophy majors, so the risk of existential crises is still a low murmur.

— Jack Wang

Contact Jonathan Kuperberg at 


FEBRUARY 15, 2012