Pac-10 Men's Basketball Power Rankings
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Category: Sports > Winter > Basketball (Men's)
No. 1: UCLA
With wins over St. John's and BYU already in the bag, it's safe to say that the Bruins punched their NCAA tickets by trouncing Arizona on Saturday. Still, Ben Howland's club has no reason to rest on its laurels. UCLA, which is tied with the Wildcats atop the conference, can do its part to claim the program's first regular season title since 2008 with two wins in Washington. A strong finish should also help persuade those who are still not buying in -- seeing as the Bruins aren't ranked despite winning 12 of 14, they still have plenty of doubters.
No. 2: Arizona
It is unlikely that any team did more to hurt their tournament seeding than Arizona did this past weekend. Entering last week red-hot after a statement victory against then-second place Washington, the Wildcats fell absolutely flat on their face, falling to both USC and UCLA - the latter by 22 points. Lamont "MoMo" Jones didn't look like a point guard ready to compete in the tournament and Derrick Williams looked as lost as he had all season in his lackluster eight-point performance against USC. Arizona doesn't face much of a challenge this weekend against the Oregon schools at home, but it must find a way to play with some confidence before it get to the Pac-10 Tournament.
No. 3: Washington State
After a seemingly season-ending loss at Arizona State two weeks ago, the Cougars suddenly thrust themselves back into the tournament discussion after an 11-point victory over Washington in Hec Edmunson Pavilion, the first loss that the Huskies suffered at home this season. Now, Klay Thompson and co. host surging USC and UCLA in what is destined to be some of the finest matchups of the season at the Palouse. With two wins, the Cougars might not only find their way onto the bubble, but into the tournament as well.
No. 4: Washington
The formula used to be so simple: excellent play at Hec Edmunson Pavilion, not so much elsewhere. Purple-clad fans must have been shocked, then, to see their Huskies muster just 17 points at halftime in a loss to rival Washington State -- this was a team, after all, that has reached triple digits six times. With a 14-game home winning streak snapped and a sweep at the hands of the Cougars in the books, Washington must now do a complete about-face in the final week. The Huskies face a pivotal season-ending series against two surging LA schools -- can Isaiah Thomas and company return to their winning home ways?
No. 5: USC
Lifeless before walking into Berkeley two weeks ago, the Trojans are now surging. Winners of four straight including a statement home victory against Arizona, USC looks great and has also thrust themselves onto the bubble. Led by Pac-10 Player of the Week Nikola Vucevic, the Trojans travel to Washington with an opportunity to pick up two critical road victories that would enhance their minimal tournament chances.
No. 6: Cal
Allen Crabbe is back, folks. It took him a while to get going after his mild nconcussion against Washington, but Crabbe has played fabulously at full strength. The freshman guard poured in 45 points -- including 10 3-pointers -- to help spark a pair of comebacks up in Oregon. Saturday's regular season finale against Stanford, who beat the Bears to open conference play, should show just how far he and his team have come since the beginning of the year.
No. 7: Stanford
The Cardinal got a nice boost with a convincing double-digit victory over Oregon last weekend, but now must come to Haas Pavilion to take on a Cal team that is one of several Pac-10 teams on a tear. Big winners over the Bears last time around, it will be interesting to see if Stanford gets as strong a performance out of Dwight Powell that they did last time.
No. 8: Oregon
Against Cal, the Ducks allowed the comeback that they themselves failed to complete in Berkeley. The culprit was the same, however: outside shooting. Oregon shot just 8-of-26 from beyond the arc at Haas Pavilion, and just 2-for-11 from long range in the second half last Thursday after the Bears' pesky zone defense clamped down on Joevan Catron.
After getting swept by the Bay Area schools to trip to 7-9 in the Pac-10, a .500 mark in conference play is unlikely for Dana Altman and company, who finish the year with a trip to Arizona.
No. 9: Oregon State
I'll keep it short and sweet: They got booed off their home floor on Senior Day. That should tell you enough. Ahmad Starks and Jared Cunningham look good, though.
No. 10: Arizona State
Trent Lockett said the Sun Devils are simply playing for pride now, and they must work hard to regain any shred of it after Saturday's drubbing at the hands of USC. Now permanently entrenched in the conference center, Arizona State was held to a season-low 18 at the break. Its 20-point halftime deficit was the team's largest in over three years.
With just two games left in conference play -- most likely followed by an early Pac-10 Tournament exit -- this woeful season is mercifully coming to an end.
Gabriel Baumgaertner and Ed Yevelev cover men's basketball. Contact them at [email protected]
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