Nobody is looking forward to turning their calendar to 2019 more than everyone associated with men’s basketball in the Pac-12. It began with two schools embroiled in recruiting scandals, and ends with no teams among the nation’s top-25.
Following ASU’s shocking upset at the hand’s of the Princeton Tigers, there aren’t many positives to find. Here’s to hoping for better in the new year.
No. 1 - Arizona State (9-3)
All the momentum from upsetting then No. 1 Kansas is gone. The Sun Devils went ice cold on offense and played lethargic against Princeton, expecting their skill would eventually propel them to victory.
ASU opens its conference slate against the Rocky Mountain schools at home looking to start fresh and to get their season back on track.
No. 2 - Arizona (9-4)
The Wildcats have been off for more than a week, and by staying neutral, remain the conference’s second best team. Arizona’s greatest weakness this season has been rebounding, as they are among the worst team’s in the nation on the glass.
Without their typical big-name talent, they will rely on Sean Miller’s coaching prowess and a rabid fanbase to navigate the punchless conference schedule.
No. 3 - Oregon (9-4)
The only bright spot for the conference this week was the Ducks road victory over Boise State. It was a nice victory for Oregon, who was without two of their best players in Bol Bol and Kenny Wooten.
Assuming that Dana Altman’s team can regain full health at some point, they have as good of a chance to win the league as anyone.
No. 4 - Colorado (9-3)
It’s been a good start to the year for the Buffaloes, who weren’t expected to do much this season. They hit a bit of a road block, finishing seventh in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii, including a loss to the hometown Rainbow Warriors.
Colorado will be tested right out of the gate in conference play, as they head to Tempe and Tucson to take on the conference’s two best teams.
No. 5 - Washington (8-4)
Another team that has a chance to get right back into the conference championship discussion is the Huskies. They’ve played a fairly tough non-conference schedule, but failed to pick up a signature win for themselves and the Pac-12.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell is emerging as one of the best young scoring guards in the conference, and if he continues to improve, so does Washington’s postseason prospects.
No. 6 - Oregon State (8-4)
Oregon State stays in the middle of the pack after a blow out win against Central Connecticut State this week. Head coach Wayne Tinkle’s team has three outstanding scorers, but might lack the defense in order to make a true run.
Redshirt junior Tres Tinkle is leading the team in scoring, averaging just under 20 points per game, and doing a nice job on the defensive glass by bringing down nine rebounds a game.
No. 7 - Stanford (7-5)
The Cardinal’s rise in the rankings is more a product of the rest of the bottom of the league struggling than their own success.
Stanford lost a tough road matchup against San Francisco. They open their conference season on the road against the LA schools looking to rebound.
No. 8 - UCLA (7-6)
The Steve Alford era is over. Following an embarrassing double-digit loss to Liberty at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins are looking to start fresh and get the program back to their former glory.
UCLA still sports a lot of talent, so maybe a big change can revitalize the roster and lead to a winning record in conference play. It’s hard to see on of the country’s power programs fall as far as they have.
No. 9 - Washington State (7-6)
It’s been a rough stretch for the Cougars, who have dropped three straight games at home. Ernie Kent’s team has dealt with the injury bug and has been a major factor in their losing streak.
Senior forward Robert Franks still leads the conference in scoring, but has been slowed by an injury. Without him, the Cougars don’t stand much of a chance against anyone.
No. 10 - USC (7-6)
Not to keep beating a dead horse, but the Trojans don’t have too much positivity surrounding the program. Sophomore guard Jordan Usher recently announced that he will be leaving the program, leaving Andy Enfield without yet another talented player.
The Trojans begin their Pac-12 schedule at home against the Bay Area schools hoping for better.
No. 11 - Utah (6-6)
This year’s downturn wasn’t too unexpected for the Utes, as they’ve had their talent saturated by graduation. Senior guard Sedrick Barefield is the only man on the roster who can consistently create his own shot or initiate the offense.
It’s been a down year for Utah, but they tend to never be down for too long.
No. 12 - California (5-7)
The adage if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all might apply to the Golden Bears. But let’s try anyway.
Cal lost a home game to Seattle earlier this week, and look like they’ll remain in the cellar of the conference the rest of the way. But in a league as untalented as the Pac-12, that could easily change.