Miller: Week 12 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Power Rankings

There are no asterisks next to defeats, and a bad loss could keep a team out of the Big Dance

Posted on February 9, 2021

Dane Miller
  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

It’s crunch time.

With only 36 at-large bids available, the Selection Committee is forced to evaluate each team with a blind-eye. The excuses of COVID-induced pauses, lack of practice time, and injuries no longer hold any sway.

There are no asterisks next to defeats, and a bad loss could keep a team out of the Big Dance.

Resumes matter.

And with just five weeks to go until Selection Sunday, each remaining game has an exponentially greater impact on the Committee’s perspective.

But on the Second Week of February, I give you my Power Rankings in the Conference of Champions.

1. USC (9-2, 15-3)

usc logoWith a third-straight win over the Bruins, USC took over first place in the Pac-12 standings and entered the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2017. At 5-2 in combined Quad 1 and 2 matchups, the Trojans are projected as high as a 5-seed in some brackets, with growing expectations of a Sweet 16 appearance. And sitting at 16th in the NET and 13th in KenPom, the sky is the limit for Men of Troy.

2. UCLA (9-2, 13-4)

Mick Cronin has yet to solve his USC conundrum, but his Bruins still hold a share of first place. Projected as a 6-seed, UCLA has potentially resume-boosting games remaining against Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and USC. Depending on the results of those contests, Cronin could catapult his team’s NET Ranking of 37 and KenPom designation of 37 even higher by Selection Sunday.

3. Colorado (9-4, 15-5)

After nearly collapsing for the second game in a row, McKinley Wright IV and the Buffs put together a solid week. The last-minute poise of the seasoned Colorado upperclassmen carried the day against Arizona, and the talent discrepancy with Oregon State was put on full display Monday night. At 6-3 in combined Quad 1 and 2 games, there are realistic expectations for a Sweet 16 run in Boulder.

4. Oregon (5-3, 10-4)

The injury to Chris Duarte appears to be less serious than initially expected, with the leading scorer of the Ducks expected to return by next week. And even though Oregon is 59th in the NET, 42st in KenPom, and currently projected as one of the Last Four In, there’s no denying UO’s potential when healthy. But without a congruent stretch of the season to judge, it’s unclear just how far the Ducks could advance in the NCAA Tournament.

5. Stanford (8-5, 12-7)

It’s never easy to beat a team back-to-back, let alone your rival, but Jerod Haase and the Cardinal put it together without Ziaire Williams and Daejon Davis. According to reports, Williams is available to play moving forward along with Bryce Wills, providing even more weapons for the Tree to utilize on both sides of the court. As one of the projected Last Four In, Stanford needs to build on its NET Ranking of 58 and its KenPom peg of 49.

6. Arizona (7-6, 13-6)

The Cats started their Mountain trip with the worst game of their season. Held to a historic 56-year-low point total against Utah, Arizona turned things around against Colorado. In Sean Miller’s postgame press conference, he complimented his team’s performance, describing it as some of the best basketball of their season. Facing a home-stand against the Oregon schools, Miller has the chance to beat the Ducks in Tucson for the first time since 2018.

7. Utah (5-6, 8-7)

Playing just once last week, Larry Krystkowiak and his players dismantled Arizona. Defensively, the Utes shut down all of the Wildcats’ scorers, while getting anything they wanted on offense. And after beating Colorado in emphatic fashion the week prior, there isn’t a hotter team in the Pac-12. But with two losses in combined Quad 3 and 4 games, Krystkowiak needs a statement win or two to garner a Bubble Team designation.

8. Oregon State (6-6, 10-8)

Exceeding expectations up to this point, the Beavers face a tough week. Coming off a defeat in Boulder, things don’t get any easier with a trip to Tucson on Thursday. Yet, the matchup with the Sun Devils in Tempe could provide an opportunity to split the desert swing, if OSU limits its turnovers. And a strong finish to the season could put Wayne Tinkle into consideration for the Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

9. Washington State (4-8, 11-8)

It’s not often that a team does something it’s never done before. But history was made in Eugene last Thursday night, as the Cougars defeated Oregon at Matthew Knight Arena for the first time in program history. The victory gave up some of its shine after the loss to Oregon State on Saturday, but the 23 points from Isaac Bonton against UO could arguably be the legacy-defining game of his career, if he decides to go pro at the end of this season.

10. Arizona State (3-5, 6-8)

On another COVID pause last week, the 2020-21 season feels like a lost year for the Sun Devils. Entering the season ranked in the Top 25 with a projected lottery pick starting alongside a potential Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate, to say this season has been a disappointment is an understatement. Even though there’s still time to make a run, it’s likely that the only path to the Big Dance is a Pac-12 Tournament Championship.

11. California (2-12, 7-14)

In the midst of a six-game losing streak, the remaining winnable games on the Bears’ schedule are slim. The matchup on Thursday against Utah appears more difficult than it did just two weeks ago, while the road swing to the Evergreen State is never easy. But Mark Fox has proven his team can compete with the upper-echelon of the Pac-12, when they play well.

12. Washington (2-10, 3-14)

The high from the January sweep of the Mountain schools in Seattle was short-lived, as the Huskies haven’t been competitive since. Outscored by a combined 47 points over the past three games, it’s painfully clear that Mike Hopkins doesn’t have the roster to effectively run his zone defense. The best coaches adapt their system to the pieces they have, and the refusal to run a man-to-man defense has arguably led to UW’s 3-14 season.

—Recent Dane Miller Stories—