It was quite the week of polar opposites for Arizona State. It began with a disappointing loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores, when the Sun Devils looked lost on offense. They then responded with a come-from-behind victory to upset the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks in Tempe.
ASU’s win was the best of the early season for the Pac-12, which has been a tremendous disappointment to begin the non-conference slate.
Here’s how the 12 programs rank amongst each other:
No. 1 - Arizona State (9-2)
The Sun Devils are riding high into the new year. Sporting a healthy backcourt of Remy Martin and Rob Edwards plus freshman stud Luguentz Dort, ASU has been impressive. They have two top 25 victories, and with a win against Princeton they would have back-to-back double digit non-conference seasons.
No. 2 - Arizona (9-4)
The rest of the teams on the list have multiple issues, sigh. Not the prototypical Wildcat team, they have some good wins (Iowa State and UCONN) and bad losses (Alabama and Baylor). They broke their 52-game non-conference losing streak against Baylor, and narrowly escaped three-win UC Davis. If Brandon Randolph and Brandon Williams can become consistent scorers, Arizona’s postseason prospects will greatly improve.
No. 3 - Oregon (8-4)
It’s been a tough start for Dana Altman’s squad. The Ducks have missed star freshman Louis King for most of the early season, and big man Bol Bol has been just about the only bright spot for Oregon. Known as a team that gets better as the season progresses, conference play will be important for Oregon to avoid back-to-back absences in the NCAA Tournament.
No. 4 - Colorado (8-3)
While the record for the Buffaloes doesn’t look too bad, it’s mostly a product of a friendly schedule. CU has a nice win against New Mexico in Albuquerque, but have suffered losses to both San Diego and Indiana State. Led by dynamic sophomore guard McKinley Wright IV, Colorado has done well early in the season, but don’t expect the run to continue in the new year.
No. 5 - Washington (8-4)
The Huskies entered the season optimistic about competing in the weak conference. It’s been a tough start, and they fell two points shy of beating then No. 1 Gonzaga in their own building. Head coach Mike Hopkins’ team looks for another strong conference season, where they surprised many during the coach’s first year in Seattle.
No. 6 - Oregon State (7-4)
Most were surprised by the success the Beavers experienced last season, others believed they underperformed. This year’s team appears to be headed on the same trajectory. Without any notable wins to begin the season, Wayne Tinkle’s team will need to pick up some good wins in the conference to boost their postseason prospects.
No. 7 - UCLA (7-5)
Steve Alford’s coaching seat might be engulfed in flames at this point. The Bruins have brought in lots of talent, but haven’t been able to transition said talent into victories. Sophomore wing Kris Wilkes has performed well after testing the NBA Draft waters, but they haven’t found anyone to pair him with. The best thing UCLA has going for them is they’re not their crosstown rival.
No. 8 - Washington State (7-4)
Ernie Kent’s Cougars remain stuck near the bottom of the Pac-12 hierarchy. They’re undefeated in their own building, but have yet to win a game outside of Pullman. Senior forward Robert Franks is a good player, but lacks the help to truly contend with the better Pac-12 teams.
No. 9 - USC (6-6)
It’s been a nightmare season for Andy Enfield and the Trojans. USC has to win their final non-conference game just to head into Pac-12 play with a winning record. A season after narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament, SC has fallen off the national landscape. Both LA schools might be looking for new head coaches at the end of the season, if the trend continues.
No. 10 - Stanford (6-5)
The Cardinal were handed a tough draw before the season when star forward Reid Travis transferred to Kentucky. Like most teams that lose their best player, they’ve regressed by a lot. Sophomore wing KZ Okpala has performed well leading the team in scoring, but the rest of the roster hasn’t matched his output.
No. 11 - Utah (6-5)
The Utes always seem to be a thorn in the side of the conference’s best teams, but might lack some punch this year. Their immediate schedule also does them no favors as they take on Nevada and both Arizona schools. Head coach Larry Krystkowiak’s team has lacked star power this year, and it shows in their spot in the rankings.
No. 12 - California (5-6)
The Golden Bears were bad this year, are bad now and will be bad for the foreseeable future. At least Berkley is a cool place with a lot of things to do.