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Pac-12 Power Rankings: Arizona Uprising

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The state of Arizona takes control of the conference

NCAA Basketball: Arizona State at Kansas Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA announced last week that they would be making changes to the way the team sheets were organized when they are given out to the selection committee. The change puts increased emphasis on road and neutral wins.

The breakdown will be as follows:

Tier 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75

Tier 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135

Tier 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240

Tier 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus.

There will still be disagreement on the power rating that defines the quadrants but I’ll continue to use KenPom. From now on I’ll include the record in each category with the ranking.

Overall Pac-12 Conference Numbers

Tier 1: 9-15

Tier 2: 9-8

Tier 3: 9-8

Tier 4: 48-5

1. Arizona State Sun Devils, 9-0 (Prev: 1)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 16.74 (34th)

Tier 1: 4-0, W-#7 Kansas 95-85 (away), #11 Xavier 102-86 (neutral), #43 Kansas State 92-90 (neutral), #49 St. John’s 82-70 (neutral)

Tier 2: 1-0

Tier 3: 0-0

Tier 4: 4-0

The Sun Devils have the best resume of any team in the country. Tra Holder is averaging a Markelle Fultz-ian 21.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game. If ASU can get through their last 3 non-conference games unscathed they will lead off conference play at Arizona in what might be the best game in the conference this year.

Next week’s games: Sunday vs. #76 Vanderbilt

2. Arizona Wildcats, 7-3 (Prev: 8)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 20.60 (19th)

Tier 1: 2-2, W- #7 Texas A&M 67-64 (semi-home), #74 UNLV OT 91-88 (away)

Tier 2: 1-1, L- #77 NC State 90-84 (neutral)

Tier 3: 0-0

Tier 4: 4-0

Arizona appears to have mostly recovered from whatever hangover affected them during the Battle for Atlantis. Their 3 best wins have come by just 12 total points but wins are better than losses. They’ve already played 6 games in the top 2 tiers which is the most in the conference. Rawle Alkins is back now so this team is at full strength as it prepares to enter Pac-12 play.

Next week’s games: Saturday vs. #172 New Mexico, Tuesday vs. #165 North Dakota St.

3. UCLA Bruins, 7-2 (Prev: 5)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 14.14 (46th)

Tier 1: 0-2, L- #32 Creighton 100-89 (neutral), #41 Michigan 78-69 OT (away)

Tier 2: 2-0, W- #60 Wisconsin 72-70 (neutral), #91 Georgia Tech (neutral)

Tier 3: 0-0

Tier 4: 5-0

The Bruins are free from Lavar Ball but now there’s nothing left to distract fans from a flawed UCLA squad. UCLA has the toughest finish to the non-conference of any Pac-12 team. If they can’t manage wins against Cincy or Kentucky then they’ll go into conference play without a signature win and a realistic chance of missing the tournament. Senior Aaron Holiday is keeping this team together averaging 17.7 points and 5.7 assists per game.

Next week’s games: Saturday vs. #13 Cincinnati, Tuesday vs. #105 South Dakota

4. Utah Utes, 7-2 (Prev: 6)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 12.08 (59th)

Tier 1: 0-1

Tier 2: 2-1, W- #52 Missouri 77-59 (home), #78 Ole Miss 83-74 (neutral). L- #74 UNLV 85-58 (semi-away)

Tier 3: 1-0

Tier 4: 4-0

Utah has lost by double digits to Butler and UNLV but neither is a killer loss. If they can beat BYU they’ll have a good chance to get a tournament berth with a 10-8 or better record in conference play. Utah doesn’t have a single player averaging 14+ points per game, 7+ rebounds per game, or 5+ assists per game so it’s been a true team effort.

Next week’s games: Saturday at #71 BYU

5. USC Trojans, 4-3 (Prev: 3)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 17.40 (30th)

Tier 1: 0-3, L- #6 Texas A&M 75-59 home), #22 SMU 72-55 (road), #27 Oklahoma 85-83 (semi-home)

Tier 2: 1-0, W- #76 Vanderbilt 93-89 OT (road)

Tier 3: 0-0

Tier 4: 3-0

I thought that USC had the potential to be a top-10 team coming into the year. They’re not that good but it’s also not clear how bad they are either. All of their losses have been to top-30 teams so they’ve been able to handle sub-standard competition. The loss of De’Anthony Melton, their best perimeter defender, has really hurt them.

Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #216 Santa Clara, Sunday vs. #144 UC Santa Barbara

6. Washington Huskies, 7-3 (Prev: 9)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 3.19 (127th)

Tier 1: 1-2, W- #7 Kansas 74-65 (semi-away)

Tier 2: 0-1, L- #55 Providence 77-70 (neutral)

Tier 3: 1-0

Tier 4: 5-0

The Huskies pulled off what was possibly the most impressive win in the country beating Kansas last Wednesday in a semi-road game. But then ASU went out and beat them in a true road game by a larger margin. And then UW got killed by Gonzaga. Still, all three losses to this point have been to likely tournament teams and the win over Kansas is still a good one so the Huskies have one of the better resumes in the conference.

Next week’s games: Sunday vs. #207 Loyola Marymount

7. Washington State Cougars, 6-3 (Prev: 2)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -2.45 (186th)

Tier 1: 1-0, W-#33 St. Mary’s 84-79 (neutral)

Tier 2: 1-0

Tier 3: 1-2

Tier 4: 3-1. L-#164 UC Davis 81-67 (home)

This is the Cougars team we expected to see. Their performance at the Wooden Legacy Classic was reminiscent of Will Ferrell’s during the debate scene in Old School. They blacked out and kicked ass but can’t tell you how they did it and are completely unable to replicate it. A loss at home to UC Davis and road losses at Idaho and UTEP drop the Cougars substantially. Robert Franks (19 and 7) and Malachi Flynn (15 and 4) are the only players in double figures for Washington State.

Next week’s games: Saturday vs. #263 IUPUI

8. Oregon Ducks, 7-3 (Prev: 7)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 13.5 (52nd)

Tier 1: 0-1

Tier 2: 0-2, L- #61 Boise State 73-70 (home), #98 Connecticut 71-63 (semi-home)

Tier 3: 2-0, W- #117 DePaul 89-79 OT (semi-home), #116 Ball State 95-71 (home)

Tier 4: 5-0

The Ducks have had a pretty clear divide in their resume as they’re 0-3 against top-100 teams and 7-0 against everyone else. This is a team that experienced a lot of turnover so maybe they gel as the season goes on but right now they aren’t even on the NCAA bubble. Luckily for them, Fresno State looks like a contender in the MWC so they’ll have one more shot at a decent win in the non-conference. 5-star freshman forward Troy Brown has been good but not exceptional to this point averaging 11.6 points and 8 rebounds per game while shooting just 29.4% from deep.

Next week’s games: Wednesday vs. #161 Portland State, Saturday at #64 Fresno State

9. Colorado Buffaloes, 7-3 (Prev: 4)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 4.42 (116th)

Tier 1: 0-1

Tier 2: 1-0, W- #92 Mercer 79-70 (neutral)

Tier 3: 1-2, L- #121 San Diego 69-59 (home), #173 Colorado State 72-63 (away)

Tier 4: 5-0

The wheels are quickly flying off the Buffalo bus as Colorado has now dropped 3 of their last 4 including games against San Diego and Colorado State. Tad Boyle’s team has finished with at least 7 conference wins every year since joining the Pac-12 but this team may be in danger of falling below that mark.

Next week’s games: Friday vs. #105 South Dakota State

10. Oregon State Beavers, 7-3 (Prev: 10)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 4.86 (112th)

Tier 1: 0-1

Tier 2: 0-0

Tier 3: 1-2, W- #95 Jacksonville State 70-69 (home); L- #100 Wyoming 75-66 (home), #240 Long Beach St. 74-69 (neutral)

Tier 4: 5-0

The Beavers squeaked past Jacksonville State yesterday night by a single point. It is the only top-200 game that they’ve won all season. Woof. They sit at just 7-3 despite playing the 343/351 ranked non-conference strength of schedule to this point. This team is better than the 5-27 catastrophe of last year but they lost Jaquori McLaughlin to transfer and still have the look of a bottom-3 team in the conference.

Next week’s games: Saturday vs. #189 Saint Louis

11. Stanford Cardinal, 4-6 (Prev: 11)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 4.99 (110th)

Tier 1: 0-2

Tier 2: 0-1

Tier 3: 2-2, W- #132 Northeastern 73-59 (home), #155 Montana 70-54 (home)

Tier 4: 2-1, L- #215 Eastern Washington 67-61 (home)

Stanford has had to deal with more injuries than any other team in the conference but it doesn’t excuse 3 losses in Tier 3-4 games already. Unless Stanford wins their last 3 non-conference games including an upset of Kansas they’re already eliminated from tournament play before Christmas. Reid Travis has tried to single-handedly keep the Cardinal afloat with a 22 and 8 in his junior year.

Next week’s games: Friday vs. #212 Denver, Sunday vs. #163 San Francisco

12. California Golden Bears, 4-6 (Prev: 12)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -0.62 (177th)

Tier 1: 1-1 W- #62 San Diego State 63-62 (away)

Tier 2: 0-2

Tier 3: 0-0

Tier 4: 3-3, L- #247 Central Arkansas 96-69 (home), #294 UC Riverside 74-66 (home), D-2 Chaminade 96-72 (road)

California had by far their best win of the season at San Diego State last week which almost got them out of the cellar. But I still can’t forgive three just terrible losses until they get one more win like that or Stanford drops another gimme. Don Coleman is among the national leaders in shots taken as he’s averaging 20.6 points on just 40% shooting with double the amount taken of the next two teammates.

Next week’s games: Saturday vs. #233 Cal State Fullerton, Tuesday at #241 Seattle

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