Jan 2, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly reacts during the 2012 Rose Bowl game against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Rose Bowl. Oregon defeated Wisconsin 45-38. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Pac-12 Power Rankings

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for some Pac-12 power rankings for men’s basketball. The Oregon Ducks are steadily improving and should be regarded as more than just a sleeper in the conference. The only team better than them at this point is California. The only question for the Ducks is, can they dethrone the Golden Bears? Cali dismantled them in their last match-up, but they had a recent slip-up in Washington.

1. California Golden Bears

About that slip-up, California lost by two in a disappointing and frustrating loss against Washington State. However, Wazzu is infinitely better at home and are a difficult match-up in Pullman. It’s impossible to beat everyone, so California is now tied with Oregon at the top of the conference with a 6-2 record. They are, however, much more talented than the Ducks and more efficient overall.

2. Oregon Ducks

The Ducks just keep winning, and their comeback against UCLA was especially impressive after they held on to beat USC, in what was a disappointing game. Nevertheless, the Ducks are better for it and their record reflects this. They aren’t impressive in any one statistical category and are mediocre in terms of overall efficiency. However, E.J. Singler, Garrett Sim, and Devoe Joseph continue to get it done, and coach Dana Altman is the Pac-12 Coach of the Year thus far. Altman has been weaving some serious magic in Eugene, and this team might not be where they are now without him at the helm. I have a feeling that he said something to get the troops riled up at half-time, because they played with so much more energy in the second half.

3. Washington Huskies

The Huskies have leapfrogged the Stanford Cardinal by virtue of their 76-63 romping against them. They still need some work on defense, but they can rebound and score (35 points per game). Tony Wroten picked apart Stanford’s vaunted defense to the tune of 21 points on 9-14 shooting with five boards and four assists thrown in for good measure. Combine that with C.J. Wilcox and the always solid Terrence Ross, and you have a core that can carry your team.

4. Stanford Cardinal.

They can’t drop too far down, solely because they were at number two behind California for most of the season. The problem is that Stanford isn’t that talented and their luck is running out on them. Josh Owens is one of the most talented players in the conference, but they don’t have another top player on this roster; just a host of solid pieces. They aren’t a bad team, but their losses to Oregon and, especially, Wazzu and Washington show that they aren’t as good as some think.

5. Oregon State Beavers

It seems weird to have a team that is 3-5 in the conference in the top half of the power rankings, but such is the nature of the Pac-12. The Beavers beat UCLA and had no trouble knocking out the Trojans, and the efforts of stars Devon Collier and Jared Cunningham are helping this team bounce back from a 1-5 start.

6. Colorado Buffaloes

I don’t have much belief in Tad Boyle’s squad, but it’s difficult to ignore a 5-2 conference record and their solid defense, despite the fact that they have yet to play an away game. They have two important games coming up against the Beavers and Bruins, and those two games will swing them in either direction. They are a top-half team for now and only slightly below Oregon State.

7. UCLA Bruins

Just when we thought talent would win out and UCLA would bounce back, they delivered to losses to the teams in Oregon. Their loss to the Beavers was disappointing, but the blow dealt to them by the Ducks in their comeback defeat was simply crushing. There can be no more excuses for Ben Howland’s team now, if there were ever excuses to begin with. This team needs to win, and they need to win soon. Their game against the Buffs will be crucial for this ballclub, and Lazeric Jones and Travis Wear need to make sure that this team gets a W.

8. Arizona Wildcats

‘Zona has an above-average defense and allow just 62 points per game, but they are disappointing outside of that. We have been waiting for Sean Miller’s team to gel and the young players to break out, but none of that has happened so far. In fact, there are no signs to suggest that anything of significance will happen to this team during the 2011-2012 season. Their best hope is a “rise by default” scenario, because their 4-3 conference record is flattering at this point.

9. Washington State Cougars

This team is just downright horrible… except when they are at home. In their friendly confines, they play efficient offensively and even beat California- the consensus top dog in the conference. Outside of Pullman, well, they just aren’t a good basketball team. They play efficient offensively overall with Brock Motum, but their defense is putrid and doesn’t care anybody in the least bit. Motum is good, but there isn’t much else to like about this team. Except when they play at home.

10. Utah Utes

Don’t get too excited about this one, because every team after Washington State is among the worst in college basketball. Utah, however, move up this list because USC is winless and they destroyed Arizona State 64-43 in the Sun Devils court. Utah is still an awful team, and their defense is arguably the worst in the country out of 344 teams; that’s bad. They can’t get things going on offense either, and that doesn’t look like it’s likely to change. They won even after the dismissal of Josh Watkins (17.3 PER, 38% usage rate), and Jason Washburn is the only thing keeping this team alive. Still, USC can’t win and the Sun Devils got crushed by the Utes in their own turf. That’s enough to keep Utah in the “top ten” for now.

11. Arizona State Sun Devils

Talk about running yourself out of your own barn. The Devils loss was ugly basketball at its finest, and it’s almost impossible to score 43 points against such a bad defense. They turned the ball over on a fifth of their possessions and knocked themselves down a few rungs in terms of respect with that loss.

12. USC Trojans

The Trojans have the honor of being the worst team in one of the most disappointing conferences in college basketball. They can’t shoot or do much of anything. And oh yeah, they can’t win. USC had a close call against Oregon, but close calls don’t count for much when you’re 0-7. They can leave the cellar once they notch their first victory in conference play, but Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon will be stuck in last place until then.

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Tags: Aaron Fuller Arizona State Sun Devils Arizona Wildcats Basketball Ben Howland Brock Motum C.J. Wilcox California Golden Bears Colorado Buffaloes Dana Altman Devoe Joseph Devon Collier Dewayne Dedmon E.J. Singler Garrett Sim Jared Cunningham Jason Washburn Josh Owens Josh Watkins Lazeric Jones Oregon State Beavers Sean Miller Stanford Cardinal Tad Boyle Terrence Ross Tony Wroten Travis Wear UCLA Bruins USC Trojans Utah Utes Washington Huskies Washington State Cougars

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