Pac-10 Women's Basketball Power Rankings

Photo: Point guard Layshia Clarendon notched a double-double last Saturday with 16 points and 12 rebounds against Oregon State.
Jonamir Ventura/Staff
Point guard Layshia Clarendon notched a double-double last Saturday with 16 points and 12 rebounds against Oregon State.

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No. 1: Stanford

The No. 2 Cardinal have not lost in 11 weeks. That's 20 wins in a row. Not that coach Tara VanDerveer and company are counting; these days, games that don't take place during the Final Four really aren't all that important to Stanford (26-2, 17-0 in the Pac-10). The squad outscored the Oregon schools by 75 points this past weekend.

It will be a surprise if the Cardinal doesn't beat Cal on Thursday and finish with an undefeated conference record. Likewise, few expect any team other than Stanford to win the Pac-10 Tournament next week. In fact, a championship rematch of the Cardinal and two-time defending champs UConn is pretty much already penciled in. How will Stanford fare in a closer contest after beating up on the Pac-10 for the last two months? After all, the squad ranks third in the country with a 25.5 scoring margin.

Here's saying the Cardinal will be just fine. The team has not yet lost in 2011; don't expect it to.

-Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 2: UCLA

With only two losses behind them and a likely two wins ahead, against the Washington teams this weekend, the Bruins' spot in second is solidified. Even if No. 10 UCLA loses both of its games and third place Arizona State were to win both of its games, the Bruins still have enough wins separating them from the rest of the pack that they wouldn't move down.

Still, they don't have quite enough wins to top Stanford. If the Cardinal loses to Cal on Thursday (we'll see how that goes), UCLA still won't catch Stanford.

-Alex Matthews

No. 3: Arizona State

Given that the Sun Devils only earned this place by having one more win than the two teams below them, it could be said that Arizona State's hold on third place is precarious. But given that their final two games are against the bottom-of-the-conference Oregon teams, it's unlikely the Sun Devils have much to worry about.

Sure, Cal - which beat Arizona State earlier this year - lost to Oregon, but comparing the Bears' consistency this season to the Sun Devils' is like comparing apples to oranges. They're both fruit, but Cal lost to Oregon and was swept by the Washington schools, and the Sun Devils have only lost to Stanford, UCLA, Cal and Arizona.

So forget the metaphor: Arizona State will stay in third place because it is consistent, and won't blow it against either of the Oregon teams.

-Alex Matthews

No. 4: Arizona

Arizona's jump to fourth place was a little surprising, but its record has earned the spot. Tied with USC's record, the Wildcats' 74-64 win over the Trojans pushed them up the rankings.

Like Arizona State, they only have an Oregon road trip ahead of them, meaning that if the Wildcats can keep it together for just a weekend on the road, they'll at least remain tied with USC, and with a marginally better overall record too.

-Alex Matthews

No. 5: USC

The Trojans, like the Wildcats, have two of the conference's easier teams ahead of them for the weekend, so if they can keep it together, they'll finish with a winning record and the fifth place spot.

However, the Washington teams are slightly more competitive than the teams the Arizona schools will see this weekend. While a loss to either team won't see a lower team pass the Trojans in the rankings, two wins won't change their fifth-place position either, unless the Wildcats blow it against the Oregon teams.

-Alex Matthews

No. 6: Cal

A month or two ago, anything other than a sweep of the Oregon schools would have been a disappointment. But getting the weekend split, despite the fact that the Beavers and Ducks rank last and second-to-last in the conference, was a success; the Bears (15-13, 7-10) won on Saturday for just the second time in February, breaking their six-game losing streak.

It was a happy ending at Haas Pavilion to an otherwise inconsistent, underwhelming season. Senior guard Rachelle Federico started for the first time and scored a career-high 15 points. Sophomore point guard Layshia Clarendon also set a career-high, with 12 boards.

Cal should savor the win, because it may not win again for another week and a half - if it wins again. The Bears take on No. 2 Stanford at Maples Pavilion on Thursday to end the regular season. A couple of wins in the Pac-10 Tournament might place Cal back in the WNIT, where it can attempt to defend its crown.

-Jonathan Kuperberg

No. 7: Washington State

Two wins for Washington State this weekend mean it will surpass Cal. Which is why it's unfortunate for the Cougars that one of their games this weekend is against UCLA. Given the most likely outcome - a loss to the Bruins - the only game that gives Washington State a chance to tie Cal is USC.

If the Cougars win that one, unlikely given that the Trojans beat them at home, they will tie the Bears' Pac-10 record. That would place USC ahead of Cal in the rankings due to their season sweep of the Bears.

-Alex Matthews

No. 8: Washington

Washington's situation is similar to that of Washington State's: It will almost certainly lose to UCLA this weekend, so its only chance to improve its record is against USC.

The key distinction here? Washington State is better.

Yet that distinction is a fine line. If the Huskies pull the upset and the Cougars don't, or if both pull out a win against the Trojans, Washington's head-to-head record against Washington State (it swept the Cougars) will place it in that coveted seventh place spot. Other than the chance of that depressing possibility for consolation, the Huskies' Pac-10 campaign is over.

-Alex Matthews

No. 9: Oregon

In spite of last week's upset over Cal, Oregon has dug itself too big of a hole to climb out of in the last weekend of conference play.

The Ducks barely have enough wins to ensure that they finish on top of Oregon State in the rankings. The only thing Oregon, at 13-14 on the season, really has to gain this weekend is a winning record. Given that the Ducks lost to both Arizona teams by double digits last time around, Oregon's season fate is looking sealed.

-Alex Matthews

No. 10: Oregon State

Poor Oregon State. The Beavers have just had a season of moral victories, whether it was only falling to UCLA by 10 points or beating Cal, 24-30 at halftime ... only to lose, 58-49. Watching their season end is a little like making the decision to have a very sick pet put to sleep.

They've got some talent - El Sara Greer is No. 10 in the nation in blocks per game, and Sage Indendi can hit 3-pointers better than most players in the Pac-10 - but Oregon State's season is beyond repair. At least it beat rival Oregon one time this year. Now someone please put Benny the Beaver out of his misery.

-Alex Matthews


Jonathan Kuperberg and Alex Matthews cover women's basketball. Contact them at [email protected]

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