Miller: Week 14 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Power Rankings

As March looms just around the corner, consistency becomes the deciding factor

Posted on February 23, 2021

Dane Miller
  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

Bumps in the road are part of the process.

But Stanford’s defeat to Washington State was quite the jolt, and Arizona’s upset over USC briefly halted the Trojans’ momentum.

Still, the Pac-12 remains in the running to land five teams in the Big Dance. And the four programs solidly in the field are capable of making a run to the Sweet 16.

As March looms just around the corner, consistency becomes the deciding-factor. Another shocking loss from any of the top five teams could put a damper on the Conference of Champions’ goal of placing a team into the second weekend of the Tournament. Stanford likely won’t be able to escape the Play-In game, even with a strong finish.

Nonetheless, with just under three weeks until Selection Sunday, I give you my Power Rankings for Pac-12 Men’s Basketball.

1. USC (13-3, 19-4)

usc logoThe Trojans bounced back from their loss to Arizona with an emphatic victory over Oregon. With a record of 7-4 in combined Quad 1 and 2 games, USC remains on a path for a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament. And a strong finish to the season, capped by a Pac-12 Tournament Championship, could bump Andy Enfield’s squad up to a 3-seed.

2. Oregon (9-4, 14-5)

Oregon’s five-game winning streak was snapped by USC at the Galen Center in a showdown that was never close. But at 6-3 in combined Quad 1 and 2 games, the Ducks are not in jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament. However, the lack of size inside was a flaw exposed by the Trojans, and a mismatch against a similarly built team in the First Round could spell trouble for UO.

3. UCLA (12-3, 16-5)

Mick Cronin secured the sweep of the desert schools with a double-digit victory over Arizona and a one-point win over Arizona State. Still, the 4-5 record in Quad 1 and 2 matchups is relatively weak compared to UCLA’s peers in the Pac-12. The remaining games against Colorado, Oregon, and USC will go far in determining the Bruins’ seed.

4. Colorado (11-6, 17-7)

With six conference road wins, the Buffs have secured their best mark away from the CU Events Center since joining the Pac-12. Despite the questionable defeats at the hands of Washington and California, CU’s 8-4 record in Quad 1 and 2 matchups is as respectable as it comes in the Conference of Champions.

5. Stanford (10-7, 14-9)

No matter what some well-renowned national pundits may say, Stanford’s triple-overtime defeat to Washington State in Pullman shouldn’t keep it out of the projected field of 68. There’s no denying the 6-9 mark in Quad 1 and 2 matchups, but the stumble on the Palouse to a team that also took down UCLA and Oregon isn’t a true “bad loss.”

6. Arizona (9-8, 15-8)

When the Wildcats play tough in the interior on both sides of the court, they can compete with anyone in the Conference. On Saturday, Jordan Brown went toe-to-toe with Evan Mobley, while Azuolas Tubelis exploited any defender the Trojans put on him. The victory in LA was Sean Miller’s 300th win at Arizona, and could lay the groundwork for the 2021-22 season.

7. Washington State (7-10, 14-10)

With a resume that includes victories over Oregon, UCLA, and Stanford, one would think the Cougars are gunning for an at-large invitation to the Big Dance. But the consistency hasn’t been there for Kyle Smith’s team, as the inexperience on the WSU roster has prevented a legitimate run at the NCAA Tournament, partially due to losses to Oregon State, Utah, and Washington.

8. Utah (6-9, 9-10)

Road victories continue to escape Larry Krystkowiak, as the Utes dropped both of their matchups in the Beaver State. Oregon State dismantled Utah with a run in the second half, while a questionable double-dribble call halted the potential game-winning possession with under ten seconds remaining against Oregon. Until the road problems are solved, Utah will remain mired in the middle of the pack.

9. Oregon State (7-9, 11-11)

The Beavers are 2-9 in combined Quad 1 and 2 matchups, and have won just a single game away from Gill Coliseum. Even so, Wayne Tinkle’s team was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 and OSU has blown the expectations for this season out of the water. As one of the wildcards heading into Las Vegas, the legacy of this year has yet to be defined.

10. Arizona State (4-8, 7-11)

The Sun Devils collapsed in the waning minutes of their matchup with UCLA, but the one-point loss is emblematic of the strength of Bobby Hurley’s team. Yet, with an 0-6 record in Quad 1 games, Arizona State has yet to break through. Be that as it may, a strong finish to the season would position ASU for a possible run in the Pac-12 Tournament.

11. Washington (4-13, 5-17)

On Senior Night, the Huskies played like the outcome meant something to them. That motivation has appeared to be lacking in certain moments of the season, but the sendoff for Quade Green couldn’t have been more satisfactory. And the 2-1 record over the last three games should build some belief in the ability to upset Arizona State this week.

12. Cal (3-15, 8-17)

Winning on the road is Mark Fox’s kryptonite, or so it seems. The Bears are an astounding 2-21 in true road games during the Fox Era, as unsustainable trend that must be addressed. With the talent to win away from Berkeley, the issue is fixable. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to address it. But a loss in Seattle is not helpful in winning over the local Bay Area media.

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