The Pac-12 football season is officially over. Which means that a number of people are looking for something to occupy their time. And if you’re one of the masses who are staggering into the sun, eyes blinking rapidly in confusion, I have good news for you. Washington Husky basketball is actually kind of fun! So go back inside those of you who don’t have Direct TV, and turn on the Pac-12 network as we enter the teeth of conference play. I guess the rest of you can go stand outside in the rain or read a book or something. What else do normal people do in the winter?
(Sidebar: The fact that one of the leading national college basketball analysts, Gary Parrish, only got to watch what may have been the Pac-12 game of the year in Arizona vs. ASU because a listener let him borrow his cable log-in is just terrible. If two of the top teams in the country play on the West Coast but no one can see it, did it really happen?)
Here’s the definition for each of the tiers if you want a refresher.
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.
1. (2) Arizona Wildcats, 11-3 (1-0)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 21.34 (14th)
Tier 1: 3-2, W- #11 Texas A&M 67-64 (semi-home), #19 Arizona State 84-78 (home), #73 UNLV OT 91-88 (away)
Tier 2: 1-1, L- #83 NC State 90-84 (neutral)
Tier 3: 2-0
Tier 4: 5-0
The first rule of power rankings is please talk about power rankings. Share it on twitter, on facebook, print it out and staple it to the water cooler. Whatever you have to do. The second rule of power rankings is if you’re #2 and you beat #1, then you get to be #1. Arizona is at full strength now with Rawle Alkins and have re-established themselves as the conference favorite. The mountain road trip is always tough with the elevation so we’ll see if the Wildcats can stay focused.
Next week’s games: Thursday at #54 Utah, Saturday at #138 Colorado
2. (1) Arizona State Sun Devils, 12-1 (0-1)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 20.39 (19th)
Tier 1: 3-1, W-#6 Kansas 95-85 (away), #16 Xavier 102-86 (neutral), #39 Kansas State 92-90 (neutral); L- #14 Arizona 84-78 (away)
Tier 2: 3-0
Tier 3: 0-0
Tier 4: 6-0
Arizona State still has a better NCAA tourney resume but I’m giving the head to head precedence even though ASU was on the road. The offense continues to be stellar but the defense has serious struggles. This team feels a lot like last year’s UCLA squad just without the distraction of a media-hungry dad in the background. That may result in a similar 14-4 or so conference record but means I don’t know if they get past the Sweet 16 ultimately.
Next week’s games: Thursday at #138 Colorado, Saturday at #54 Utah
3. (3) UCLA Bruins, 11-3 (2-0)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 13.93 (49th)
Tier 1: 1-3, W- #17 Kentucky 83-75 (neutral); L- #8 Cincinnati 77-63 (home), #29 Creighton 100-89 (neutral), #33 Michigan 78-69 OT (away)
Tier 2: 1-0
Tier 3: 3-0
Tier 4: 6-0
The 2nd half of the Washington game saved UCLA from their worst loss of the season. Their resume is missing some top flight wins but they’ve avoided a damaging loss. UCLA will need to keep fighting those off with the Bay Area road trip coming up. That trip is a no win situation as you get the added difficulty of a road trip but a win doesn’t really do much for your resume.
Next week’s games: Thursday at #132 Stanford, Saturday at #176 California
4. (6) Washington Huskies, 11-4 (1-1)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 4.77 (112th)
Tier 1: 2-3, W- #7 Kansas 74-65 (semi-away), #46 USC 88-81 (away)
Tier 2: 0-1, L- #59 Providence 77-70 (neutral)
Tier 3: 2-0
Tier 4: 7-0
This might be a homer pick given the 2nd half of the UCLA game but I’m giving the Huskies the tiebreaker over Utah with two wins that are better than Utah’s best. UW has a road trip to Wazzu coming up followed by a homestand against the Bay Area schools. Anything other than a 4-1 start in conference play will be a disappointment at this point.
Next week’s games: Saturday at #164 Washington State
5. (4) Utah Utes, 10-3 (2-0)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 12.72 (54th)
Tier 1: 1-2 W- #56 Oregon 66-56 (away)
Tier 2: 3-1, L- #73 UNLV 85-58 (semi-away)
Tier 3: 1-0
Tier 4: 5-0
Utah’s win over Oregon was the biggest statement in the conference outside of Washington’s win over USC. This team isn’t flashy but they continue to stay in the hunt for an NCAA bid. If they can split the Arizona schools at home it would be big for them as they have to follow it up with a road trip to the L.A schools. In 2 weeks we should know if this team is more likely to go 12-6 or 9-9 in conference.
Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #14 Arizona, Saturday vs. #19 Arizona State
6. (5) USC Trojans, 10-5 (1-1)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 14.56 (46th)
Tier 1: 1-3, W- #74 Vanderbilt 93-89 OT (road)
Tier 2: 2-0
Tier 3: 1-2, L- #112 Washington 88-81 (home), #119 Princeton 103-93 OT (home)
Tier 4: 6-0
At this point I think it’s safe to say that USC is not even remotely close to as good as most people thought they would be. With a pair of home losses in the last 2 weeks and a very iffy best win the Trojans need to turn on the jets now if they want to make the tournament.
Next week’s games: Thursday at #176 California, Saturday at #132 Stanford
7. (7) Oregon Ducks, 11-4 (1-1)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 12.22 (56th)
Tier 1: 0-1
Tier 2: 1-2, W- #85 Fresno State 68-61 (away)
Tier 3: 4-1, L- #127 Connecticut 71-63 (semi-home)
Tier 4: 6-0
Fresno State has fallen 15 spots and subsequently Oregon is one of only 4 teams in the conference without a top-tier win this season. Dana Altman tried to patch this team together with transfers following the loss of 4 key players from the Final 4 squad and it hasn’t really come together. The Ducks are a candidate for a late surge due to that lack of continuity but they’re running out of time. A road win over their in-state Beavers on Friday is a must.
Next week’s games: Friday at #125 Oregon State
8. (10) Oregon State Beavers, 9-5 (1-1)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 4.02 (125th)
Tier 1: 0-1
Tier 2: 0-1
Tier 3: 3-2. W- #132 Jacksonville State 70-69 (home); #138 Colorado 76-57 (home), #185 Saint Louis 63-60 (semi-home)
Tier 4: 6-1. L- #238 Long Beach State 74-69 (neutral)
Oregon State flattened Colorado this weekend which allows them to move out of the bottom-3 for the first time since the season started. The Big-3 of Drew Eubanks, Tres Tinkle, and Stephen Thompson have been as advertised but no one else is really stepping up for the Beavers. It doesn’t help that they’re the worst 3-point shooting team in the conference by several percent.
Next week’s games: Friday vs. #56 Oregon
9. (9) Washington State Cougars, 8-6 (0-2)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 0.52 (164th)
Tier 1: 1-3, W-#25 St. Mary’s 84-79 (neutral)
Tier 2: 1-1
Tier 3: 1-1
Tier 4: 5-1. L-#162 UC Davis 81-67 (home)
The Cougars lost by double digits in each game of the L.A road trip which can’t be considered a surprising result. The farther away we get from the Wooden Classic the more it looks like a fever dream. Since that time, the Cougars are 2-6 with only wins at home against IUPUI and Bethune-Cookman and losses against Idaho, UC Davis, and UTEP. The win against St. Mary’s keeps them out of the basement but if they can’t go 2-1 in home games against UW, Stanford, Cal in their next three then this team is destined to sink even further.
Next week’s games: Saturday vs. #112 Washington
10. (8) Colorado Buffaloes, 8-6 (0-2)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 2.84 (138th)
Tier 1: 0-2
Tier 2: 0-2
Tier 3: 2-2. W- #89 South Dakota State 112-103 2OT (home), #110 Mercer 79-70 (neutral); L- #115 San Diego 69-59 (home), #194 Colorado State 72-63 (away)
Tier 4: 6-0
The Buffs had probably the worst start to conference play of any team in the Pac-12. Beating Oregon would’ve been a stretch but it’s not a good sign that they weren’t even competitive against Oregon State. When your best win is a home game against a Summit league team in double overtime, you know you’re in trouble. Tad Boyle has been able to keep his team between #45 and #92 in the KenPom rankings every season of his tenure but the loss of 4 starters following last season means a rebuild might be taking place.
Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #19 Arizona State, Saturday vs. #14 Arizona
11. (12) California Golden Bears, 7-7 (1-0)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -0.6 (164th)
Tier 1: 1-1 W- #57 San Diego State 63-62 (away)
Tier 2: 1-2
Tier 3: 1-1
Tier 4: 4-3, L- #216 Central Arkansas 96-69 (home), #265 UC Riverside 74-66 (home), D-II Chaminade 96-72 (road)
Rule #3 of power rankings is if you are in last place and you beat the team in 2nd to last place, then you escape the basement. Especially if it’s on the road. Per win probability graphs on KenPom, California had just a 0.7% chance of winning their conference opener against rival Stanford when down by 8 with about 3 minutes to play given the teams involved and it being a road game. But they’ve finally done enough to make up for the three worst losses in the conference and at least for now move up a spot.
Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #46 USC, Saturday vs. #49 UCLA
12. (11) Stanford Cardinal, 6-8 (0-1)
Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 3.42 (132nd)
Tier 1: 0-4
Tier 2: 0-0
Tier 3: 2-2. W- #104 Montana 70-54 (home), #124 Northeastern 73-59 (home), #139 San Francisco 71-59 (home)
Tier 4: 3-2. L- #176 California 77-74 (home), #187 Eastern Washington 67-61 (home)
I picked this team 3rd in my pre-season Pac-12 rankings. Yeah...about that. I’m not sure if anyone in Palo Alto is aware that Stanford has a basketball team but if they did then Jerrod Haase would seriously be on the hot seat after just 1.5 seasons. This year’s team would be the worst Stanford has fielded since at least 2002 and almost certainly this will be the worst two year stretch since early in Johnny Dawkins’s tenure. 7 of the 10 rotation players for Stanford were 247 top-100 recruits so the problem isn’t talent. The loss to Cal is inexcusable especially since Stanford had both Dorian Pickens and Kezie Okpala for the 1st time this season.
Next week’s games: Thursday vs. #49 USC, Saturday vs. #46 USC
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