Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 3

Michael Tao/Senior Staff

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1. No. 1 Arizona (18-0, 5-0) (Previous: 1st)

Seems like no one’s talking about the Wildcats’ defense. Much of the national narrative for this top-ranked squad has focused on super frosh Aaron Gordon and playmaker Nick Johnson, but it’s the team’s defense that’s been the biggest reason Arizona stands at No. 1 in the country. Its 87.6 points allowed per 100 possessions ranks third in the nation. Pay attention to its ridiculous quickness and length next time you watch the Pac-12’s elite squad.

— Michael Rosen

2. Cal (14-4, 5-0) (3rd)

Along with Arizona, Cal is one of the few Pac-12 teams that hasn’t fallen victim to the conference’s tendency to cannibalize itself. Though the team’s recent game against Washington State was close at first, the Bears soon pulled away and handled the Cougars without a problem. But slow starts like that won’t hold up when tougher competition comes to town.

— Riley McAtee

3. UCLA (14-4, 3-2) (2nd)

Crazy to think that UCLA still stands as the third-best team in the Pac-12 after losing to Utah, but here we are. The normally potent Bruins offense fell flat on the Utes’ home court; only Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine looked remotely engaged in the upset loss. As mentioned above, the conference has produced just two consistent performers: Arizona and Cal.

— Michael Rosen

4. Stanford (12-5, 3-2) (7th)

The Cardinal suffered a bewildering loss to Oregon State early in the Pac-12 slate but have looked as steady as any squad over the past couple weeks. After rightly blowing out the Cougars, the Cardinal took down UW on the strength of a Beast Mode-esque performance from Chasson Randle. The junior guard poured in 33 points, tied for his highest-scoring performance of the year.

— Michael Rosen

5. Colorado (15-4, 4-2) (8th)

Colorado has not completely collapsed without Spencer Dinwiddie. The Buffaloes blew out USC in a game where Josh Scott put up 20 points to go along with seven rebounds. Perhaps Colorado can thrive without its best player, though I wouldn’t be caught holding my breath just yet.

— Riley McAtee

6. Utah (14-4, 3-3) (11th)

Utah is all over the place. Its loss to WSU suggests it belongs at the bottom of the conference, but an emphatic win against UCLA last weekend is indicative of a real contender. So we’re sticking the Utes right smack dab in the middle of these illustrious power rankings. Their upcoming road trip to ASU and Arizona will reveal whether Utah belongs closer to the top or the bottom.

— Michael Rosen

7. Arizona State (13-5, 2-3) (5th)

In the Sun Devils’ defense, they’ve faced a brutal schedule. Consecutive road games against UCLA and Arizona is one of the toughest slates in the country. Losses in both those games are excusable; the margin of defeat (an average of 19 points) is not. ASU needs to get hot quick if it wants to get out of NIT purgatory.

— Michael Rosen

8. Washington (11-8, 3-3) (4th)

Washington came crashing back down to Earth with losses to Cal and Stanford last week. It turns out CJ Wilcox can’t carry the team, and Washington’s offense has struggled during Pac-12 play. This squad needs balance, but unfortunately for the Huskies, there aren’t a whole lot of playmakers to be found on the roster.

— Riley McAtee

9. Oregon State (10-7, 2-3) (9th)

The Beavers have been incredibly inconsistent, like much of the rest of the Pac-12. Right now they are carried by elite shooting both inside the paint and outside the arc. But their defense has holes and they turn the ball over on almost 25 percent of their possessions. Oregon State is still far from being a good team, but a win over the Ducks lifts the Beavers over their rival.

— Riley McAtee

10. Oregon (13-4, 1-4) (6th)

What happened to the Ducks? After going undefeated in nonconference play, things are falling apart in Eugene as Oregon fell for the fourth-straight game, against Oregon State, on Sunday. Oregon travels to take on the Washington schools next, a road trip that is now essential for the Ducks to have a chance at climbing back up the Pac-12.

— Riley McAtee

11. Washington State (8-10, 1-5) (10th)

Did you know the Cougars rank 335th in the country in free throw percentage? That fact is one major factor in WSU bringing up the rear of the Pac-12 in offense. The Cougars play some decent defense, but the absence of leading scorer Davonte Lacy has really inhibited their ability to get buckets.

— Michael Rosen

12. USC (9-9, 0-5) (12th)

The Trojans suck, plain and simple. They’ve been blown out in literally every Pac-12 game. Byron Wesley is a do-it-all guard for USC (averaging more than seven rebounds per game!), but his talents aren’t enough to end this team’s drought.

— Riley McAtee


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