As the conference season reaches the midway point we have an undefeated team and a winless team amongst the Pac-12. Washington has been phenomenal in conference play, and California probably wouldn’t been upset if the season ended last weekend.
On the local front, after a tough weekend in L.A. the Arizona schools will meet in Tempe for the first time. With the loser of the game probably seeing their NCAA Tournament prospects put to bed.
Let’s get to the rankings:
No. 1 - Washington (16-4, 7-0)
The Huskies are taking care of business and are looking like the only guaranteed team to make the tournament. With their strong brand of defense that travels, head coach Mike Hopkins’ team has Seattle buzzing about hoops again.
The schedule gets a bit challenging coming up, as they host the L.A. schools before heading to the desert for their lone matchups with UA and ASU.
No. 2 - Arizona State (14-6, 5-3)
The Sun Devils were mere seconds away from their first road sweep under Bobby Hurley. Until Bennie Boatwright had other ideas. In the interim, a road split isn’t the worst thing and they’ll be able to get some rest with only one game this week.
Another positive was the great free throw shooting against UCLA and USC. ASU shot 37 of 46 at the foul line, good for an 80 percent clip. As the season gets older, the Sun Devils can’t let free points slip away from them like they did earlier in the year.
No. 3 - USC (12-8, 5-2)
It was a great weekend for the Trojans. They got the home sweep over both Arizona teams and played inspired basketball.
Boatwright and junior forward Nick Rakocevic might be the best front court tandem in the conference, and the team got a big boost with the return of freshman Kevin Porter Jr. from suspension. With a trip to Seattle looming, USC has a big opportunity ahead of them.
No. 4 - Arizona (14-7, 5-3)
The Wildcats had a really, really bad week. Without junior forward Chase Jeter, Arizona was blown out in both games over the weekend struggling to do anything on offense.
It doesn’t get any easier for UA as they travel to Tempe desperately in need of a win. USC and UCLA had lots of success employing a zone defense against the Wildcats, and it will be interesting to see how much zone the Sun Devils use on Thursday.
No. 5 - Utah (11-8, 5-2)
Don’t look now, but the Utes are on a five-game winning streak. They easily took care of the bottom of the conference to earn the sweep over both Bay Area teams.
At a 5-2 record in the conference, Utah looks more than capable of winning at least one game in Vegas. They now return home looking to remain among the Pac-12’s best with upcoming games against the Oregon schools.
No. 6 - UCLA (11-9, 5-3)
It was a disappointing spilt for the Bruins, but as one of the more talented teams in the conference they aren’t done just yet. They have a good opportunity to improve their prospects with a trip to Washington this week.
Sophomore wing Kris Wilkes had the best game of his career against Arizona last weekend, scoring 34 points and showing why many believe he has a strong chance to have a career at the professional level.
No. 7 - Oregon State (12-7, 4-3)
After entering the conference season with high expectations, the Beavers have once again regressed back to being average at best.
Redshirt junior Tres Tinkle has remained an elite scorer, but hasn’t received a lot of help from his supporting cast to put them over the top. Time is running short in Corvallis, and the pressure is mounting as well.
No. 8 - Oregon (12-8, 3-4)
At least the Beavers are doing better than their in-state rivals. This will almost certainly be remembered as a “what if” season in Eugene, for a team that entered the year with a lot of talent and expectations.
Freshman forward Louis King has done the best he can leading the team in scoring after Bol Bol’s season ending injury. Now people around Oregon are hoping that King will be wanting to come back and redeem themselves next season.
No. 9 - Stanford (10-10, 3-5)
Where would this team be without sophomore wing KZ Okpala? The good thing is we don’t have to find out, because this isn’t that good of a team with him.
Okpala can flat out score the basketball, and it looks like he will be given an opportunity to play professional as some NBA mock drafts have him as a second round selection in this upcoming draft.
No. 10 - Colorado (11-8, 2-5)
The bottom of the barrel in this league is truly bad. It’s getting tough to write about, but hey at least Bill Walton brings eyeballs to the broadcasts.
CU will have a chance to pick up a much needed win as they host the Oregon schools this weekend, but nothing has been easy for Colorado all season. Head coach Tad Boyle usually has his teams playing better than their talent, but hasn't found the magic touch yet this year.
No. 11 - Washington State (8-12, 1-6)
With the L.A. schools playing well the timing of their matchup against the Cougars is less than ideal.
Luckily for the Cougars, freshman forward CJ Elleby has performed well alongside senior Robert Franks. Elleby is second on the team in scoring averaging 16.1 points per game. Learning from the experienced Franks, gives Wazzou some slimmer of hope for the future.
No. 12 - California (5-15, 0-8)
Dec. 21, 2017 was the last time the Golden Bears won a basketball game. It was a home matchup against San Jose State that they won by eight points.
This week they host Stanford looking for a victory over their rival in front of what in all likelihood will be a fairly small Bay Area crowd.