Posted on December 28, 2021
Five programs in the league are within 30 spots of each other in the NET rankings:
Oregon (98), Stanford (103), Colorado (111), California (119), and Arizona State (124). While two other groups are clustered: Washington (229) and Oregon State (245); and Washington State (64) and Utah (75).
But the NET rankings don’t provide the whole story and the time is ripe for an updated Power Ranking.
As conference play begins, I provide my first weekly list that will be updated through the start of the Pac-12 Tournament.
The results of the first week’s games are sure to shake up the rankings, so if you don’t like where your team sits, check back in next week.
1. Arizona (11-1, 1-0)
The Wildcats are 2-1 in Quad 1 matchups and lead the Pac-12 in combined Quad 1 and 2 victories with four.
Top in the nation in points per game at 89.5 and No. 2 in the NET, Tommy Lloyd has seamlessly introduced his “European” style of play using Sean Miller’s returning starters.
Bennedict Mathurin is arguably the mid-season favorite for the Pac-12 Player of the Year, averaging 18.2 points per night.
2. UCLA (8-1, 2-0)
The Bruins haven’t played a game since December 11th, but enter Pac-12 play with an 8-1 mark despite Cody Riley’s absence since the opener.
Holding two Quad 1 wins, UCLA sits 21st in the NET with resume victories over Villanova and Marquette.
Mick Cronin’s offense is humming with 81.1 points per game, second in the Pac-12 and 28th in the country.
3. USC (12-0, 2-0)
The Trojans are undefeated heading into January, No. 7 in the latest AP Poll, and 13th in the NET.
A COVID-pause has caused a handful of cancellations within the last two weeks, but the AP ranking is USC’s highest since 1975. Andy Enfield’s team is 1-0 in Quad 1 games, and 3-0 in Quad 1 and 2 matchups.
The Trojans have a resume win over San Diego State and noteworthy victories against Temple, UC Irvine, and Georgia Tech.
4. Washington State (8-5, 1-1)
Kyle Smith’s team has confounding defeats to Eastern Washington, South Dakota State, New Mexico State, and Boise State on its record.
The Cougars’ strongest victories are UC Santa Barbara and Arizona State.
The 8-5 start has been disappointing and effectively eliminates WSU from at-large contention, unless the program secures multiple victories over a combination of Arizona, UCLA, and USC.
5. Utah (8-4, 1-1)
Nobody knew what to expect from Craig Smith in his first season in Salt Lake City, but an 8-4 start has raised expectations for the remainder of the year.
A slew of Utah players transferred out over the offseason, yet Smith brought in players that were a fit for his system.
The result is a team ranked 75th in the NET with a legitimate shot to contend for a Top 4 finish in the Pac-12 standings.
6. Colorado (9-3, 1-1)
Starting the year off shaky, Colorado beat Montana State, Brown, and Eastern Washington by a combined 9 points. And the Buffs lost by four to Southern Illinois.
Replacing McKinley Wright IV has been difficult, with CU’s young roster showing its inexperience.
Yet, Tad Boyle’s team is 9-3 heading into the new year with all of its goals ahead of it.
7. Stanford (8-4, 1-1)
Inconsistency held back the Cardinal during the nonconference season.
The Tree were handedly defeated by Santa Clara, stuck with Baylor for the first half, and then finished the past three weeks on a tear.
Harrison Ingram is the clear front-runner for the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and Stanford has respectable wins over Wyoming, Liberty, and Oregon.
8. Arizona State (5-7, 1-1)
Bobby Hurley’s team is a conundrum. The Sun Devils have impressive true road victories over Creighton and Oregon, but lost to UC Riverside and San Francisco in Tempe.
ASU’s seven Quad 1 and 2 games played is the highest in the Pac-12, and its two victories in those matchups are more than Stanford, Colorado, and Oregon combined.
If Arizona State continues to improve, it could be a team to watch over the next two months.
9. Oregon (7-6, 0-2)
There’s no way around it: Oregon’s nonconference results have been the shock of the 2021-22 season. The Ducks are 0-5 in matchups featuring the Top 2 Quadrants, and Dana Altman’s team has a Quad 3 loss on its record.
Quincy Guerrier’s game hasn’t translated to the Oregon system, and Nate Bittle barely sees the floor.
There’s plenty of time to right the ship, but the picture is bleak in Eugene.
10. California (8-5, 1-1)
Mark Fox’s team is off to its best start since he took over the program.
The Bears have solid wins over Santa Clara and Fresno State, but losses to UC San Diego and UNLV.
California’s one Quad 2 victory is noteworthy, yet its 0-4 mark in road and neutral games is a tell-tale sign of where it sits in the grand scheme of Pac-12 Basketball.
11. Washington (5-5, 0-1)
The state of UW basketball is in disarray. The Dawgs have losses to Northern Illinois, Wyoming, Nevada, Winthrop, and Utah Valley, while its lone noteworthy win is over South Dakota State.
The Quad 2 victory is nothing to discount, but the two Quad 4 defeats can’t be overlooked.
Terrell Brown Jr. leads the Pac-12 in scoring with 21.4 points per game, but Washington is ninth in the Pac-12 in scoring offense.
12. Oregon State (2-10, 0-2)
Replacing Ethan Thompson has been no easy task.
The Beavers opened the year with a win, then went on a 10-game losing streak that was only broken last week.
The 22-point victory over Nicholls could indicate the light switch has been flicked on for Wayne Tinkle’s squad, but the string of defeats damaged the program’s reputation.
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