With just three weeks of play left for each school, this weekend will be a make-or-break weekend for some as the top four teams in my rankings, and the conference standings, will play another top-four team. Oregon will play at California on Thursday and Arizona will be at Washington on Saturday.
1.California — Even though they beat USC by 26 last Thursday, their 10 point victory against UCLA was more impressive. The Bears defense was in lockdown mode as they held the Bruins to less than 40 percent shooting and it was the 15th time this season they have held an opponent below that mark.
2.Oregon — Backed by conference player of the week E.J. Singler, the Ducks swept the Washington schools in impressive fashion with hot shooting. In back-to-back games, the Ducks shot more than 55 percent. Prior to that, the Ducks had only shot more than 50 percent in a game three times all season.
3. Washington — Wasted an opportunity to grab a stranglehold of the conference but as FSN analyst Marques Johnson said, “the Huskies were thoroughly embarrassed by Oregon” last Thursday when they suffered their worst loss of the season 82-57. The Dawgs final three games are all on the road where they have only won four times all year.
4. Arizona — Bear down. These cats just might be the most dangerous group in the pack after wins against Colorado and Utah. Their past three losses have been by a combined five points. In Arizona’s final five games, four of their opponents are in the bottom half of the conference, starting this Thursday at Washington State.
5. Colorado — Reality can be a pain sometimes. Colorado’s road woes continued with a loss at Arizona. Even their win on Saturday at Arizona State was not easy but they prevailed to stay a game out of first in the conference. Imagine if their two single-point victories against Arizona and Oregon earlier in the season were reversed in score, they would be out of the picture and there would be a four-way tie for first place.
6. UCLA — A win against Stanford followed by a loss to California has the Bruins teetering on still being a factor. Two of their final three games are against Arizona and Washington, which gives them hope. Side note, Josh Smith be called a bust. He has only eclipsed 20 points once all year and has also only grabbed 10 rebounds once.
7. Stanford — Their win on Sunday against USC was just their second in the past month with the other being against lowly Arizona State. During the second week of my power rankings I said you could not tell Cal and Stanford apart using a blind resume. To quote whoever said the cliché first, “That’s why you play the game.” Stanford’s six conference losses have all been by ten or more points.
8. Washington State — Despite splitting a pair of road games in Oregon last weekend, Head Coach Ken Bone said it was their best trip of the season. Just keep the Cougs away from the Oregon Ducks, though. Oregon shot 55 percent against them on Saturday but that was nothing compared to the 69 percent they shot back in December up in Spokane.
9. Oregon State — It was a rough weekend for the Beavers with two home losses which hurts even their NIT chances in March. This young team with only one senior can still surprise anybody on any night which will make them exciting in the conference tournament.
10. Arizona State — After beating Utah 57-52 on Thursday, the Sun Devils lost to Colorado to hold on to the dubious distinction of being the only team in a power conference to have not won consecutive games all year. Even USC has managed that.
11. Utah — Lost twice last week to extend their losing streak to six games which is currently the longest of any Pac-12 team. However, they would need to lose two more to tie their season low of eight games which took place during non-conference action.
12. USC — More of the same for the boys of Troy as for the fourth time in five games they were held to less than 50 points after losses to California and Stanford. The only reason to watch this team is to see just how red the face of Head Coach Kevin O’Neill will get after a call does not go his way.