Posted on January 17, 2023
UCLA, winner of 13 in a row, Gonzaga (11), and Saint Mary’s (7), give us three of the hottest teams in the nation.
The Bruins and the Zags have also each won their last seven conference games, tying for the fourth-longest conference win streaks in the nation.
Colgate has won 21 straight Patriot League games while Kansas has won 10 in the Big 12 and Houston has won eight AAC wins in a row are the only longer streaks in the country.
This week we will see some matchups in our rankings that could offer some separation. Among our Top 16, I would argue that the first 10 should all be included in the NCAA field of 68.
1. UCLA Bruins 16-2 (3)The Bruins’ 13-game win streak stands as the third-longest currently in the nation. The streak is the longest for a UCLA team since the 2016-17 season.
The Bruin defense has been great all season but in the last four games, UCLA has held opponents to just 52.5 points per game.
UCLA is getting 9.9 more scoring chances per game than opponents this season, the second-most in the nation trailing only Houston’s 10.6.
The Bruins will head to the desert this week, UCLA has swept the Arizona road trip twice since 2009.
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs 16-3 (2)Gonzaga finally got to come home after three tough road games and they appeared to be happy to be back in Spokane with a 40-point win over Portland.
The Zags dominated in winning their 75th consecutive home game.
The win also runs their overall winning streak to 11 games since they last fell to Baylor. Gonzaga also got a one-point comeback win over a tough BYU squad in Provo last week.
In the last three halves of play, Gonzaga has shot 43.8% on three-pointers while knocking down 21 of them in the 60 minutes of play.
3. Arizona Wildcats 15-3 (1)Arizona lost to Oregon for the sixth consecutive time in Eugene and for the eighth time in the last nine meetings overall with the Ducks.
The Wildcat horrors at Matthew Knight Arena continued as they were outrebounded by the UO and shot just 37.5% from the floor, two categories UA has dominated for much of the season.
If the Wildcats want to take the Pac-12 regular-season crown they might not be able to afford another loss.
Two games remaining on the schedule with UCLA, including one in the coming week, do give the Cats a path to the title.
4. Arizona State Sun Devils 15-3 (5)Arizona State swept the Oregon trip to give them their third conference road trip sweep since the expansion of the Pac-12. It was the sixth time ASU has swept the Oregon trip since 1993.
At 15-3 on the season, Arizona State is off to their best 18-game start to the season since 2008-09 and it is just the sixth time ASU has won at least 15 of their first eight games.
In the win over Oregon State, the Sun Devils blocked 16.5% of the Beavers’ shot attempts.
The last time the Sun Devils were 6-1 to open conference play was 1980-81.
5. New Mexico Lobos 16-2 (6)The Lobos stepped out of conference play last week to end Oral Roberts’ 10-game win streak and finish the nonconference portion of their regular season unbeaten.
New Mexico then went to San Diego and knocked off the Aztecs, picking up their first road win over a ranked opponent since 2012-13.
It gave Richard Pitino a win over a ranked opponent in each season since 2014-15.
Jamal Mashburn continued to score in double figures running his streak to 39 games, the second-longest current run in the nation.
Jalen House earned Mountain West Player of the Week honors for his efforts in the two wins averaging 22.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
6. Saint Mary’s Gaels 16-4 (7)The Gaels have won seven straight games.
Saint Mary’s defense has been effective all season as they are sixth nationally in adjusted defense and continue to limit opponents to under 50% on non-blocked two-point shots.
Over the last four games, the offense has really taken off as well as they are averaging 80.8 points per game in the last four and have scored at least 76 points in four straight for the first time since March 2020.
The Gaels shot 52.4% on threes in the win over San Francisco.
7. San Diego State Aztecs 13-4 (4)The Aztecs went 1-1 last week in two drastically different games with shockingly similar final scores.
San Diego State looked terrific against Nevada in a 74-65 win with a first-half performance that saw the Aztecs outshoot the Wolf Pack 50%-33.3% from the field. In the 76-67 loss to New Mexico.
SDSU was outshot in the first half 48.5%-37.5%.
The loss snapped a 16-game home win streak and was just the second loss in the last 34 games the Aztecs have played at Viejas Arena.
8. Boise State Broncos 14-4 (9)The Broncos picked up a pair of wins in dominant fashion at UNLV and Wyoming last week.
The Broncos are limiting opponents to 60.9 points per game this season, the 15th best defensive mark in the season.
Boise State has gotten it done on offense in the last three games as well as they have averaged 83.7 points while scoring over 80 in three straight conference games for the first time since 2021.
The Broncos have put together a 40+ point first half in three of their last four games.
9. Nevada Wolf Pack 15-4 (8)The Wolf Pack saw their six-game win streak end against San Diego State last week but rebounded with a win over Utah State. This week will open with another big one at Boise State.
Nevada continues to get to the foul stripe and knock them down. They are fifth in the nation with 24.3% of their scoring coming from the free-throw line.
The Pack are making 17.5 free throws per game on the season, the thirteenth most in the nation.
10. USC Trojans 13-5 (10)USC got a pair of home-court victories over Colorado and Utah as they have now won nine in a row at the Galen Center.
The Trojans also got Vincent Iwuchukwu on the court in both games, albeit briefly—11 total minutes played.
But getting the 7-foot-5 star recruit on the floor is huge, not only for him personally, but as he gets back into form it could be a game changer for the Trojans.
USC was able to score against a stingy Utah defense as the 71-points were the third most the Utes allowed in a game this season.
The Trojans are now 8-1 this season when reaching 70 points on offense and own a 61-7 record the last 68 times they have reached that plateau.
11. Utah State Aggies 14-4 (11)The Aggies went 1-1 last week with a win at home over Wyoming before falling at Nevada.
The Aggies continue to lead the nation in three-point shooting at 42.6% on the season. Individually Steven Ashworth leads the country at 51.3% on three-pointers.
Utah State has five players currently averaging double figures, one of just twelve teams nationally that can claim that. USU is getting 30.3 points per game from their bench, the 14th most in the nation.
Utah State is 12-0 this season when scoring 77 points or more in a game and 2-4 when scoring 76 or fewer.
12. Santa Clara Broncos 15-5 (14)The Broncos are 12-3 in their last 15 games played.
Keyshawn Justice has averaged 24.0 points per over his last two games played. The Broncos got a win over Pacific even with leading scorer Brandin Podziemski out.
The emergence of Justice over the last two games on offense could give Herb Sendek a second legitimate option on offense when Podziemski returns. Podziemski is averaging 18.7 on the season.
A huge week lies ahead for the Broncos with BYU coming to town and a trip to Saint Mary’s on the docket for this coming weekend.
13. BYU Cougars 14-7 (NR)The Cougars had Gonzaga beat at home last week only to let the Zags off the hook. BYU rebounded with a 10-point win over Pepperdine to close out the week.
The Cougars shot over 50% from the floor against the Waves as six BYU players reached double figures. BYU was 25 for 32 from the FT line in the win.
A trip to the Bay Area awaits BYU this week with Santa Clara and San Francisco the opponents.
14. Oregon Ducks 10-8 (NR)Jermaine Couisnard missed the first 14 games of the season and returned to the starting lineup for the first time against Arizona and he responded well.
Couisnard led the Ducks to the upset win with 27 points.
Will Richardson had a 14-point, five-assist, four-rebound game against the Cats as the Ducks had four players in double figures. Oregon forced turnovers and created offense.
Oregon has been far too inconsistent this season, but if they can continue to play like they did in the win over Arizona, they can certainly salvage the season.
Time is running out, though, and the Ducks can’t afford another dip in the rollercoaster.
Oregon has gone 2-1 in their last three games.
15. San Jose State Spartans 12-6 (NR)Tim Miles and his Spartans can make a statement on the road against New Mexico on Tuesday night.
SJSU is another team that has struggled for consistency this season with up-and-down performances. Omari Moore is 24 points from becoming the 16th 1,000-point scorer in Spartan history.
The Spartans need to put together a few good weeks of performances to make their season.
16. Utah Utes 12-7 (12)The Utes opened Pac-12 play 5-0 for the first time since joining the conference and have promptly lost three in a row.
Granted the losses were to UCLA, USC, and an Oregon team that has maybe found something?
They remain in our Top 16 primarily because I am not sure there was another team in the three leagues that seemed to want it.
San Francisco and UNLV also had rough weeks and Colorado suffered through an 0-2 trip to LA just as the Utes did.
Utah has shot under 40% in each of their last three games.
The 5-0 start to conference play has put Utah in a spot where they could afford some losses, but the skid needs to be turned around.
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