The Pac-12 has been nothing short of disappointing and awful this season, with only California looking like a team that can do some damage. Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency rankings have this conference as the ninth best in the nation, while Sports Reference’s SRS has the Pac-12 as the seventh best conference.
1. California Golden Bears
There really isn’t much debate as to who is the best team in the Pac-12, because the Golden Bears have been the only legitimate team in the conference this season. They aren’t great by any measure, but good is enough to be the best in this conference. No team in the Pac-12- save for Washington and perhaps UCLA- has the top end talent to match the trio of Allen Crabbe, Justin Cobbs, and Jorge Gutierrez. They are one of the top 40 teams in the country, and that’s better than what can be said for the rest of the teams in this conference. They defend well with an average of just 59.1 points per game against, and they have four players with PERs in the 20s.
2. Stanford Cardinal
I was about to put the Oregon Ducks in the second spot, but I decided to hold off on that bias and keep Stanford here. It wouldn’t really be biased to put the Ducks at second in the conference, because they have the second highest RPI and handled the Cardinal in their last matchup. However, Stanford is still the better team when looking at the advanced statistics, and they are among the best defensive teams in the country. They have six of the league leaders in defensive rating in the Pac-12, and that alone is enough for them to grasp the number two spot. They are starting to slip, as expected, and their narrow victory against Utah was ugly and a bit worrisome.
3. Oregon Ducks
The Arizona Wildcats have a case for the No. 3 spot, but the Ducks defeated them and have priority. It wasn’t a convincing victory by any means, as the Ducks barely held on to win. However, they have the advantage in RPI and have more star power in players like Devoe Joseph and E.J. Singler. The Ducks have somehow pushed their way up the ladder in the conference, but there are a few teams behind them who are looking to take this spot back.
4. Arizona Wildcats
The Wildcats have the third highest SRS in the conference and the fourth highest RPI, and those are the two merits by which they earned this ranking. The Bruins, Huskies, and Buffaloes are all pretty much even with the ‘Cats, because the race gets murkier as you head towards the middle of the table. There isn’t a clear picture in the Pac-12 at any other spot except the top, but Arizona is fourth for now.
5. UCLA Bruins
Ben Howland’s squad is slightly better than Lorenzo Romar’s at this point, and both teams have the upside and talent to get back on track and challenge Cali. The Bruins have more talent and are playing better, and that combination gives them the advantage at this point. They are about as good as ‘Zona right now, and they should be able to be on the cusp of the No. 3 spot next week.
6. Washington Huskies
The Huskies are arguably the most talented team in the conference and are 4-1 in conference play, but I still can’t get over their overall record of 11-6. They still haven’t completely shed their bad habits, and their defense is horrendous. They need to improve defensively before they can move up these rankings.
7. Colorado Buffaloes
Colorado’s RPI of 63 is quite bizarre to be honest. They lost by 20 against Stanford, but they are seven points ahead of the Cardinal in RPI. They are 9-6 and overachieved at the beginning of conference play; they won their first three games at home. Colorado is fairly mediocre at this point, and this ranking suits them best at this point.
8. Oregon State Beavers
The Beavers may have a great offense, but that’s not much of a consolation for a team that is currently 1-5 in Pac-12 play. After Colorado, things start to get ugly in the conference, and Oregon State is the start of this ugliness in the bottom.
9. Arizona State Sun Devils
I had this back and forth between the Sun Devils and Cougars, and the Sun Devils emerged as the victor for the inconsequential No. 9 spot. This team was supposed to be almost as bad as Utah, but they have played tough without Keala King and are trudging through adversity. It’s tough not to feel for this squad, and they are over .500 in conference play right now (3-2).
10. Washington State Cougars
Wazzu were able to take advantage of an easy schedule in the early portion of the season, and they have struggled when the games got tougher as well. The Cougars have lost their past three road games in conference play, and their 1-4 record so far in the Pac-12 is nothing short of anemic. They are 9-8 overall, but that has to do with a soft non-conference schedule (8-4).
11. USC Trojans
There are some experts who are panning the Trojans as the worst team in the conference, but I’m not ready to lavish such an honor upon this horrid offense just yet. They haven’t had the easiest schedule this year, and they are nowhere near as horrible as Utah when looking at the efficiency numbers. That being said, Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon are their only two sources of offensive credibility. This team just can’t score (53.6 points per game) and not being last place in the conference is hardly an honor.
12. Utah Utes
Although the Utes can claim to have won a conference game, USC has yet to do so, they are still the worst team in this conference; nothing as changed in this regard. The 4-13 Utes have an SRS of -12.9. Yes, that’s the 302nd “best” mark in college basketball this season. They stink, and everybody knows it. Jason Washburn and Josh Watkins are their only two players with above average PERs, and this season just can’t come to a close soon enough for this Utah team.
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Tags: Aaron Fuller Allen Crabbe Arizona State Sun Devils Arizona Wildcats Ben Howland California Golden Bears Colorado Buffaloes Devoe Joseph Dewayne Dedmon E.J. Singler Jason Washburn Jorge Gutierrez Josh Cobbs Josh Watkins Keala King Lorenzo Romar Oregon Ducks Basketball Oregon State Beavers Pac-12 Power Rankings Stanford Cardinal UCLA Bruins USC Trojans Utah Utes Washington Huskies Washington State Cougars