As the Pac-12 slate starts heating up, teams are starting to emerge themselves as contenders or predenters.
Through four weeks of the conference season U of A is dominant, the Trojans and Cardinal have resurrected themselves, UCLA is slipping and no one is quite sure what to make of ASU.
Here’s how we ranked the conference.
Pac-12 Power Rankings — Jan. 23
Destin: This is a disappointing year for the Pac-12. At this time last season, Oregon, UCLA and Arizona were all ranked the top 10. This year? None. Arizona, Stanford and USC have solidified they are the three best teams in this conference. But below that, it’s an absolute mess. UCLA, who looked like it could go on a run, has lost three straight. Colorado could’ve won its third straight, lost to Washington who has lost two of its last three. Arizona State is still ranked, but can’t figure out how to sweep a weekend. Maybe this is good. Maybe this is the turning point. There are still 11 games to play. But unless a couple more teams rise up, this could look like a gang of NIT teams.
Kaye: Parity runs the Pac-12. Because of that, it took me some time to decide on what teams were for real in the conference. Did I take too long? Probably. This week, though, I stopped looking at the non-conference résumés of each team and instead pulled the trigger, drastically moving a handful of teams. The largest leap forward came from USC who has won its last four and vaulted itself to second in the Pac-12. Also moving up for me is Stanford. I didn’t give the Cardinal much credence because some of their big wins (UCLA and USC) weren’t convincing but after handling ASU and hanging with Arizona, they are legit. Perhaps the biggest fall from grace amongst the Pac-12 contenders is UCLA. I thought they had cemented themselves as the third-best team in the conference after starting off 4-1, but the Bruins have lost their last three against mediocre competition.
Tonis: Aside from the top three and the bottom two, the rankings could truly go in any order. A big homestand for Utah and three straight losses for UCLA basically switched those teams, as the Pac-12 continues to shake itself out. If ASU could finally win the first game of a weekend set, it could cement itself toward the top of the conference, but it has yet to do so. This conference is insane, with still seven teams within a game of .500 in conference play, so there’s a long way to go to figure out who the best of the conference will be in Las Vegas.