You will find no cool charts here. While the football power rankings may have the resources to pull something like that off, we are humble folks in the basketball realm. We don’t bring in the necessary coin to allow Landon to bestow upon us his valued technology. So we will instead plow ahead with what we have. Our wits, and the knowledge that it’s been 252 days and things still aren’t better. So please read, please comment, please let me know if Cal is too damn high and maybe Chris will share his cool chart for next year. Let’s get started.
I’m going to try to do these rankings as if I’m a part of the NCAA selection committee except I’m putting irrational weight on the last several weeks of results. The biggest component will be who you’ve beaten and who you’ve lost to but I’ll take into account contextual information.
1. USC Trojans, 3-0
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 21.45 (15th nationally)
Best win: #53 Vanderbilt 93-89 OT (Road)
It may have taken a comeback and eventually overtime but the win over Vanderbilt is the best one in the conference this year. It’s rare for teams to play true road games against other Power-6 teams this early in the season so props to USC for taking advantage. The Trojans have been led by the trio of point guard Jordan McLaughlin and big men Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu who are all averaging 18+ so far.
Next week’s games: Wednesday vs. #193 Lehigh, Sunday vs. #6 Texas A&M
2. Utah Utes, 4-0
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 14.61 (44th)
Best wins: #57 Ole Miss 83-74 (neutral), #72 Missouri 77-59 (home w/o Michael Porter Jr.)
The Utes’ win over Ole Miss is just behind USC’s but their 2nd best win is the best in the conference even if it came without Missouri’s best player. They’ve put forth a balanced attack with no player averaging more than 14 points but a quartet of them between 11.8 and 13.8.
Next week’s games: Wednesday at #124 UNLV, Friday vs. #231 E. Washington
3. Arizona State Sun Devils, 4-0
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 8.46 (75th)
Best win: #70 San Diego State 90-68 (home)
The Sun Devils absolutely bludgeoned what should be a decent Aztecs team which gets them to the 3rd spot here. Tra Holder and Shannon Evans are living up to their expectation as the best guard duo in the conference averaging 22/7/6 and 20/3/6 respectively. They’ll get their stiffest test this week though.
Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #35 Kansas State (neutral), Friday vs. #16 Xavier or #175 George Washington
4. Arizona Wildcats, 3-0
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 26.31 (2nd)
Best win: #163 Cal State Bakersfield 91-59 (home)
Let’s be clear, Arizona is absolutely the best team in the conference so far. But they’ve played 3 cupcakes to this point. They’ve done what they’re supposed to do and bludgeoned all of them but it’d be nice to see Arizona do it to a real team. And they’ll get the chance this week in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Allonzo Trier is heavily in the conversation for player of the year averaging 30 points on 58.8% shooting from 3 while star freshman DeAndre Ayton is averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds.
Next week’s games: Wednesday vs. #99 NC State (neutral), Thursday vs. #24 SMU or #115 Northern Iowa (neutral), Friday likely vs. #1 Villanova or #11 Purdue (neutral
5. Colorado Buffaloes, 5-0
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 6.78 (90th)
Best win: #89 Mercer 79-70 (neutral)
The Buffaloes are leading the conference in wins but they’re mostly empty calories. Mercer is the favorite in the Southern Conference so they could be a #13 or 14 seed come tournament time but there’s nothing else on the resume. McKinley Wright was a 2.5 star recruit but has been a star for Colorado in the beginning of his college career averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists while leading the team in minutes played. Point guard was a problem for the Buffs entering the year but they seemed to have solved it.
Next week’s games: Sunday vs. #203 Air Force
6. Oregon Ducks, 4-0
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 16.97 (33rd)
Best win: #150 Ball State 95-71 (home)
Like Arizona, the Ducks played a very easy schedule leading up to their major tournament this weekend. They’re currently 344/351 in strength of schedule so far. But they’re taking care of business winning those games by an average of 33 points. I noted Utah’s balance but Oregon has an astounding 6 players averaging between just 11.3 and 13 points. Expect that to change against real competition during the PK80 and we’ll figure out who their go-to players will be.
Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #66 Connecticut (semi-home), Friday vs. #12 Michigan State or #127 DePaul (semi-home), Sunday likely vs. #10 North Carolina or #22 Oklahoma (semi-home)
7. UCLA Bruins, 3-1
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 15.21 (41st)
Best win: #59 Georgia Tech 63-60 (neutral)
Worst loss: #36 Creighton 100-89 (neutral)
I’m not going to get into all of the off court problems with UCLA unless they affect on court performance. The Bruins escaped China with a win (but no sunglasses, sorry couldn’t resist) which should look decent come Selection Sunday. They couldn’t take advantage of a very good opponent in Creighton. This team doesn’t look like a Pac-12 title squad but should still make the tourney. Freshman Kris Wilkes looks he can step in and mostly replace T.J Leaf’s production with 17 and 7 so far.
Next week’s games: Tuesday vs. #32 Wisconsin (neutral), Sunday vs. #187 UC Irvine
8. Washington State Cougars, 4-0
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -4.42 (264th)
Best win: #264 Seattle 75-59 (home)
There are few certainties in life but one of them is that the Cougars will not be ranked this highly next week. The Cougars are currently 330/351 in strength of schedule and unlike Oregon they haven’t dominated the competition. They needed a comeback and overtime to beat #259 Texas Southern at home who is their best opponent to this point. Robert Franks has been their best player averaging an 18 and 9 with 61.1% shooting from beyond the arc which is approximately double his career average so I don’t expect it to last.
Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #65 St. Joseph’s (neutral), Friday vs. #26 Saint Mary’s or #129 Harvard, Sunday likely vs. #271 Cal State Fullerton or #296 Sacramento State
9. Washington Huskies, 2-2
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 1.99 (136th)
Best win: #114 Belmont 86-82 (home)
Worst loss: #50 Virginia Tech 103-79 (neutral)
The Huskies have the strongest strength of schedule of any team in the conference so far since they already concluded their pre-season tournament while most take place this week. While the Dawgs may have a pair of losses, they’re better than any of the teams below them and the wins are better as well. The Huskies will load up on 4 must-win games (in the sense that if they lose them then it signals the team is actually awful) over the next 2 weeks before squaring off against Kansas. Jaylen Nowell is leading the team in scoring with 19.3 points as a true freshman.
Next week’s games: Friday vs. #264 Seattle (home), Sunday vs. #219 UC Davis
10. Stanford Cardinal, 3-2
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 8.33 (76th)
Best win: #165 Northeastern 73-59 (home)
Worst loss: #231 Eastern Washington 67-61 (home)
Stanford has been the most disappointing team in the conference by a wide margin so far. I expected them to compete for the 3rd best team in the conference but they still can’t get it together. Dorian Pickens has missed time with injury but that isn’t an excuse for losing to Eastern. North Carolina is a very good team but Stanford wasn’t even competitive in a loss at home last night falling 96-72. They’ll need to turn around quick as they play in a loaded PK80 field starting on Thursday. At least Reid Travis is still playing like a Pac-12 POY candidate putting up 21.2 points and 6.6 boards.
Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #8 Florida (neutral), Friday vs. #23 Gonzaga or #67 Ohio State, Sunday likely vs. #49 Butler or #217 Portland State
11. Oregon State Beavers, 2-1
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 7.32 (87th)
Best win: #230 Long Beach State 89-81 (home)
Worst loss: #79 Wyoming 75-66 (home)
The Beavers blew their only opportunity for a good win so far at home against a Wyoming team that will compete in the Mountain West. If they can beat St. John’s on Thursday it would signal that there’s still a chance they get into the bubble race. Tres Tinkle has come back from injury and picked up where he left off averaging 21 points and 8 rebounds.
Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #46 St. John’s (neutral), Friday vs. #72 Missouri or #230 Long Beach State, Sunday likely vs. #64 UCF or #106 Nebraska
12. California Golden Bears, 2-2
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 3.32 (122nd)
Best win: #202 Wofford 79-65 (home)
Worst loss: #279 UC Riverside 74-66 (home)
The loss to UC Riverside is the worst in the conference so far and the win against Wofford isn’t anything to write home about. I expected Cal to be bad with essentially a brand new team and they have been. Give them some credit for at least being competitive against #4 Wichita State in Maui yesterday. Don Coleman has been perhaps the breakout player of the conference averaging 28 points per game as one of only 3 returning players and scoring less than 5 last season.
Next week’s games: Tuesday vs. #96 VCU (neutral), Friday vs. #45 Michigan or D3 Chaminade