Miller: Week 13 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Power Rankings

Dana Altman’s teams peak as March approaches, and this roster appears to be no different

Posted on February 16, 2021

Dane Miller
  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

It was only matter of time.

The Ducks have finally begun to hit their stride after sweeping the Arizona schools in the desert. Injuries and COVID pauses put a damper on Oregon’s season through the start of February, but Dana Altman’s teams peak as March approaches, and this roster appears to be no different.

With five Pac-12 programs still projected to receive invitations to the NCAA Tournament, the countdown to Selection Sunday officially begins now.

Until then, there is plenty of time to talk about Pac-12 Power Rankings, and I present my list here for debate.

1. USC (11-2, 17-3)

usc logoIn sole possession of first place and ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25, the Trojans have a game advantage over both UCLA and Oregon in the loss column. Projected as a 4-seed, USC is 15th in the NET and 6-3 in combined Quad 1 and 2 games. Evan Mobley remains the frontrunner to win the Conference’s Player of the Year Award, and Andy Enfield is arguably the favorite to land the Coach of the Year honors.

2. Oregon (7-3, 12-4)

Despite the loss of N’Faly Dante for the year, the Ducks are as healthy as they have been all season. Mid-year enrollee Franck Kepnang is a budding star that appears to be tailor-made to fill the role Dante left, while Will Richardson is getting back into the swing of things after missing most of the season. Combined with Eugene Omoruyi, Chris Duarte, and LJ Figueroa, Dana Altman has a roster capable of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

3. Colorado (10-5, 16-6)

Hot one day, cold the next. The Buffs posted what was arguably the most impressive win in the Pac-12 to date, an 18-point dismantling of Stanford at Maples Pavilion, only to follow it up with a shocking nine-point defeat to California at Haas Pavilion two days later. But with a NET Ranking of 20 and a record of 7-3 in Quad 1 and 2 contests, it’s easy to see why the East Coast observers have respect for Tad Boyle’s squad. Still, the defeats to Washington and the Bears can’t be ignored.

4. UCLA (10-3, 14-5)

Mick Cronin and the Bruins are trending in the wrong direction at the worst possible time. The absence of Jalen Hill appears to have disrupted UCLA’s rotation, impacting the Bruins’ defensive efficiency, which was already below last season’s levels. At 49th in the NET and 3-5 in Quad 1 and 2 matchups, UCLA is projected as a 7-seed with pivotal games upcoming that could shift the needle in either direction.

5. Stanford (9-6, 13-8)

Needing a win over Utah to stay on the right side of the bubble, the Tree got it done. But the victory over Alabama to start the season is arguably the deciding-factor keeping Stanford in most bracket projections. Even so, with a dangerously low NET Ranking of 56, there’s no margin for error. Fortunately, the Cardinal’s combined mark of 5-8 in Quad 1 and 2 games is just enough to keep them in the Big Dance as one of the Last Four In.

6. Arizona (8-7, 14-7)

Kerr Kriisa adds a different dimension to the Wildcats after the NCAA granted him eligibility at the beginning of February. Unfortunately, James Akinjo has struggled at times since Kriisa’s debut, and the two guards haven’t developed the chemistry Sean Miller needs for his team to reach its peak. And with bigs that don’t have the defensive skills necessary to slow down talented forwards and centers, the Cats are somewhat stuck in No Man’s Land.

7. Utah (6-7, 9-8)

An at-large bid was a long-shot, but the Utes’ defeat to Stanford arguably shut the door entirely. Left to chase a Pac-12 Tournament Championship to make the Big Dance, Larry Krystkowiak’s squad can position itself for a run by finishing the year strong. That might be a difficult task, with upcoming games against the Oregon and LA schools to finish the regular season. And with Mikael Jantunen out for what’s been described as “a few weeks,” players such as Ian Martinez and Pelle Larsson must step up.

8. Arizona State (4-6, 7-9)

As one of the most disappointing teams in the country this season, Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils can turn that perception on its head with a run in the Pac-12 Tournament. There’s no denying the talented individual pieces on ASU’s roster, but COVID pauses, injuries, and players like Josh Christopher playing out of position have resulted in Arizona State falling far short of expectations. Yet, Hurley’s offensive scheme makes his team one of the most dangerous programs in the Conference and one that nobody wants to face in Las Vegas.

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

The Beavers finally return to Corvallis after a three-game road swing resulted in three-straight losses. But Oregon State has won four in a row at Gill Coliseum, and there’s a decent possibility of extending that steak to six with bouts against the Mountain programs this week. To get it done, Jarod Lucas must shoot the ball with greater efficiency. The sophomore guard’s 12-for-36 from the field over the past three games isn’t getting it done.

10. Washington State (5-10, 12-10)

What a whirlwind. After convincingly taking down UCLA on Thursday, getting outmatched by USC on Saturday, and dropping a heartbreaker to Washington without Isaac Bonton on Monday, the roller coaster ride the Cougars took last week was emblematic of the 2020-21 season. The highs and lows the three games brought must be cast aside, with a winnable matchup against Cal on Thursday and a showdown with Stanford on Saturday.

11. California (3-13, 8-15)

At this point in the Mark Fox Era, home wins in Pac-12 play are almost expected. With a record of 8-9 in conference games at Haas Pavilion, the victory over Colorado was arguably not that surprising. In some ways, the win over the Buffs makes the one-point defeat to Utah earlier in the week hurt even more. Still, in just Year Two, the focus slowly begins to shift to extending another trend built under the tutelage of Fox: Winning a game in Sin City.

12. Washington (3-12, 4-16)

Without Quade Green, the Dawgs beat WSU in Pullman after dropping last year’s contest at Beasley Coliseum. The win snapped a five-game losing streak, including a one possession defeat to UCLA on Saturday, and could build the confidence needed to end the year strong. The matchup on Thursday with Stanford figures to be a challenge, but the game against Cal presents an opportunity to secure a victory in the final home game of the season.

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