Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 5

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1. No. 3 Stanford (21-1, 10-0 Pac-12) (Previous: 1st)

Stanford not only remains atop this week’s power rankings, but it put significant distance between itself and any other competition. The Cardinal retains its No. 3 national ranking and No. 1 conference standing after handily defeating Cal not once, but twice last week to remain undefeated in conference play. In the first matchup of the week, Stanford built up a dominating 30-point lead over the Bears before allowing them to inch back to within five in the final minute of the game. Despite the close call, the Cardinal squad showed its ability to outlast very good teams. In the game, Stanford held Cal’s primary post player scoreless. And if that display was not enough of a message, the Cardinal hammered their message home a few days later — this time in Bear territory. In the second meeting, Stanford won by 15 points to entrench its position at the top.

— Taylor Brink

2. No. 23 Cal (14-7, 6-4) (2nd)

Cal retains the second spot in this week’s rankings despite losing twice to archrival No. 3 Stanford. Though the Bears dropped two disappointing games, they gave the Cardinal a better run than any other Pac-12 opponent has done all season. In one of the best comebacks the Pac-12 has seen in a very long time, the Bears clawed back from a 30-point second-half deficit to make a game of it. The squad inched to within five points of the No. 3 team in the nation with a minute left before eventually losing by six, all without any points from Reshanda Gray, who recorded 32 points in the previous matchup against UCLA. It is hard to fault any team for losing to Stanford, and the Bears put on a show. Cal should be on guard, however, for Arizona State is rapidly making a case for this No. 2 spot.

— Taylor Brink

3. No. 11 Arizona State (19-3, 8-2) (4th)

Arizona State bounces up to No. 3 this week after taking down four Pac-12 opponents in two weeks. Although each game was won by a margin of three points or fewer, the Sun Devils are quietly making their way up the list, boasting only two conference losses this season to Stanford and Washington State. The Arizona State squad should breeze through this week’s two Arizona matchups before traveling up to the Bay to face some of the Pac-12 top-dwellers — the Cardinal and the Bears. When that time comes, we’ll see if the Sun Devils will be able to keep up with other ranked teams and preserve their win streak.

— Janice Chua

4. USC (14-9, 7-4) (3rd)

Two weeks ago, USC’s main concern was finding a way to match up to its Bay Area Pac-12 counterparts — nationally ranked Cal and Stanford. After topping the Bears in narrow fashion, the Trojans seemed to have found a winning rhythm. But their streak of good fortune was short-lived, as USC fell in three straight games. Most notably, the once second-ranked Pac-12 team just could not handle Washington State or the rising Washington squad. The Trojans will have a chance to get back on track these next few weeks, facing off against UCLA and the two Oregon schools.

— Janice Chua

5. Washington (12-9, 5-5) (6th)

The Washington women recently had an interesting two weeks. After falling to the two Oregon schools, both of which are lower on our Pac-12 power rankings list, the Huskies bounced back with an impressive weekend in Los Angeles. With four players posting double figures, the Huskies were able to take home their first win against UCLA in Pauley Pavilion since 2002. Then, on Sunday, they effectively contained USC’s offensive production to knock off the Trojans in a 63-55 victory. The Washington squad is currently on the rise, but it will have to step up its game this weekend when it battles Cal and Stanford.

— Janice Chua

6. Oregon State (13-9, 5-5) (8th)

The Beavers get bumped up a few spots to No. 6 after having a good week playing on their home court. With four players scoring in double figures, the Oregon State squad used a balanced scoring attack to take down Washington in a 75-68 tilt. Two days later, the Beavers burst out of the gate with an incredible first-half performance that put Washington State in a hole it could not get out of. Not surprisingly, Oregon State split weekend results in Arizona. The Beavers struggled to keep their lead before Arizona State came from behind to earn a narrow victory, but they rebounded with an easy win over Arizona. They’ll have an opportunity to turn that win into a streak this weekend, when they battle Colorado and Utah.

— Janice Chua

7. Washington State (12-10, 6-4) (5th)

Washington State had a rough week in the latest stretch of Pac-12 play. Though the squad recorded a win over USC on the road Friday, the win was sandwiched between two losses to middle-of-the-pack teams. Oregon State handily defeated Washington State on Jan. 26, leading by 25 points in the first half and eventually winning by a total of 15, 72-57. The following Sunday, the Cougars fell to UCLA after shooting only 38 percent. The squad’s fortunes may not turn any time soon, as one-loss Stanford and powerful Cal are next on the docket. If Washington State cannot beat average Oregon State and UCLA, it is difficult to imagine the team having an easy time against two of the most talented teams in the conference.

— Taylor Brink

8. UCLA (11-12, 5-6) (7th)

UCLA has been struggling, sitting around the .500 mark in conference play, and was unable to get its head above water last week. The squad fell to 5-6 in Pac-12 play after a three-game slide, losing to Stanford, Cal and Washington. UCLA’s defense was ineffective against Reshanda Gray’s inside play when the Bruins played the Bears on Jan. 26, allowing the junior forward to score 32 points and snag 15 rebounds. The Bruins were able to stem their downward spiral, however, by gaining a foothold in the win against Washington State on Sunday. Seniors Atonye Nyingifa and Thea Lemgerger led the Bruins past the Cougars, recording 30 points and 21 points, respectively. UCLA will look to even out its record against rival USC on Saturday.

— Taylor Brink

9. Oregon (12-9, 3-7) (12th)

Finally, with some conference wins to its name, Oregon climbs out of the basement and up into ninth place in this week’s power rankings. The Ducks picked up victories against Washington State, Washington and Arizona before just narrowly losing out to Arizona State on Sunday. Sophomore Jillian Alleyne is on a hot streak at the moment. After putting up 21 points and 19 rebounds in a win over WSU, the 6-foot-3 forward exploded for 34 points and 25 rebounds against Washington and 29 points and 20 rebounds against Arizona. Meanwhile, freshman Chrishae Rowe was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the second straight week and a league-record sixth time.

— Josh Netter

10. Utah (10-11, 3-7) (9th)

Utah drops one spot to 10th place in this week’s rankings. Head coach Anthony Levrets’ squad continues to play subpar basketball this season, and it’s tough to see it making any sort of run to climb up the Pac-12 standings. After a narrow loss to Arizona State, the Utes just barely edged Arizona — by far the worst team in the Pac-12 — by three points, for only their second win of conference play. Utah subsequently split a pair of back-to-back matchups against Colorado, winning at home before getting blown out by 16 points in Boulder. Senior Michelle Plouffe is averaging an impressive 17.4 points and 10.1 boards per game, but aside from that, it’s tough to see any bright spots in this squad.

— Josh Netter

11. Colorado (13-8, 3-7) (10th)

Colorado just might be the most disappointing team in the Pac-12 thus far. Once ranked as high as 11th in the national polls, the Buffs have undergone an astonishing fall from grace this season. A four-game losing streak was finally snapped with a win over bottom-dwellers Arizona, but Colorado immediately reverted to its losing ways with two more losses against Arizona State and Utah. Though the Buffs recovered to blow out Utah in their very next game, the magnitude of their decline this year is staggering. With eight more conference games to play, Colorado still has some time to turn things around, but for now, it sits in second to last in our power rankings.

— Josh Netter

12. Arizona (4-17, 0-10) (11th)

This one is easy. The Wildcats, winless in conference play and losers of 15 of their past 18 games, are without a doubt the worst team in the Pac-12. Most recently, head coach Niya Butts’ squad dropped a pair of double-digit losses at home to Oregon and Oregon State. Candice Warthen, the team’s top scorer, is putting up only 12.1 points a game. Perhaps more tellingly, Arizona’s best rebounder is grabbing only 5.8 boards per contest. The Wildcats play porous defense and consistently struggle to put up points on the offensive end, and at this point in the season, it’s probably fair to say their year is done. The only question that remains is whether they’ll pick up any conference wins at all.

— Josh Netter


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