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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-12 Power Rankings: Bottom feeders rotate fluidly

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Arizona men’s basketball forward Stanley Johnson (5) shoots during Arizona’s 91-65 win against Gardner-Webb on Tuesday in McKale Center. Fresh off being named the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Week, Johnson put up 18 points against the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

1. No. 3 Arizona (6-0)

The Wildcats are the unquestioned best team in the conference and have played like it so far. Behind the emergence of standout freshman Stanley Johnson, Arizona is just one of two undefeated teams left the Pac-12. Now if they could just stay out of foul trouble…

2. No. 25 Utah (5-1)

Utah started the year ranked No. 25 before losing to San Diego State and falling out of the rankings in week 3. Since then, the Utes have won four cupcakes over teams like Alabama State and UC Riverside. The real test comes tonight when No. 8 Wichita State comes to town in what should be a huge matchup.

3. California (5-1)

The Golden Bears may have lost last year’s leading scorer in Justin Cobbs, but have scored at a slightly higher rate this season. Tyrone Wallace has upped his points per game to 17.2, and Jordan Mathews has increased his points per game to 15.5. Add in new coach Cuonzo Martin, and things are looking up.

4. UCLA (5-2)

Most expected a drop-off from the Bruins, but it’s hard to tell what kind of drop-off they’re experiencing. Their two losses have come against Oklahoma and North Carolina by a combined score of 153-121. The offense that averages 84.3 points per game looked mediocre against better competition. This is a very confusing UCLA squad.

5. Colorado (4-1)

Losing someone like Spencer Dinwiddie is usually enough to set back a program for a bit. However, the emergence of Josh Scott has certainly eased that transition. The Buffaloes don’t jump off the page otherwise; they’re just a solid Pac-12 team.

6. Stanford (4-2)

The Cardinal is another team that lost considerable pieces from last year. Luckily, Chasson Randle stayed because he is the heart and soul of this year’s squad. The Cardinal will go as far as Randle takes them. A wallop over UNLV and a close loss to Duke prove Stanford is a quality opponent.

7. Washington (6-0)

The Huskies are the only other undefeated team in the conference besides Arizona. Sure, they’ve mostly come against cupcakes, but 6-0 is still impressive. It’s may be too early to say for sure, but this quick start is exactly what Lorenzo Romar needs to keep his job. With do-it-all guard Nigel Williams-Goss leading the way, the Huskies could make some noncon noise against SDSU this weekend.

8. Oregon (4-2)

After losing so many key parts in the offseason to a rape scandal, the Ducks figured to take a major hit. Before the departures, this was a team that could’ve challenged Utah for second in the conference. However, Oregon has performed admirably this year. Competitive losses to ranked teams Michigan and VCU have given Ducks fans hope.

9. ASU (4-2)

Bringing up the rear of the conference is ASU. The Sun Devils have lost a pair of games against solid teams in Maryland and Alabama so far. It’ll be hard to tell if they’ve gotten over Jahii Carson’s and Jermaine Marshall’s departures until a Dec. 16 road matchup against Marquette. If the Sun Devils are going to make noise come conference play, they have to keep getting better over the month of December.

10. USC (4-3)

The Trojans were supposed to be dunk city part 2 under offensive wizard Andy Enfield. Turns out they’ve been more of a yawn city. Their leading scorer averages just 11 points per game. Sure, three other players average at least 9.1 PPG, but there just isn’t enough talent to make a difference. Add in a relatively weak nonconference schedule and it’s no surprise to see the Fighting Enfield’s this far back of the pack.

11. Oregon State (3-2)

Craig Robinson may have had presidential ties, but getting rid of him has proven to be the right decision. My opinion of the Wayne Tinkle hire is much less optimistic. I’m not sure hiring from Montana was the splash the Beaver faithful wanted to see. When looking at the roster, there’s not much after Gary Payton II.

12. Washington State (3-3)

The Cougars stink. ’Nuff said.

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Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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