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Pac-12 MBB Power Rankings: Washington Undisputed

The Huskies have staked a claim to the top spot in the conference and it’s not particularly close

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

If you want a reminder for what each of Q1 through Q4 means or what victory/defeat points are then check the bottom of the article.

1 (2). Washington Huskies, 16-4 (7-0), Projected #8 Seed

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 15.91 (36th)

Victory Points: 31 points. Best Win: Q1, 61-56 over #66 Oregon (A).

Defeat Points: -5 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 66-68 to #52 Minnesota (N).

There’s absolutely no dispute here. The Huskies have a 1.5 game lead in the conference standings and are projected by KenPom to win the Pac-12 by 4 games. They’re the only team in the Pac that received votes in the most recent polls and the only one securely in every mock bracket. Oh yeah, and the Huskies are still #1 in conference play in both offensive and defensive efficiency although Utah has closed the gap on offense. If the Huskies win every game they’re favored in from here on out then they’ll be back in the NCAA tournament. But the next 2 weeks will be the hardest remaining stretch on the schedule and KenPom gives them just a 14.6% chance of emerging from it unscathed.

This week’s games: Wednesday vs. #76 USC, Saturday vs. #98 UCLA

2 (5). Arizona State Sun Devils, 14-6 (5-3), Projected #12 Seed

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 12.17 (56th)

Victory Points: 31 points. Best Win: Q1, 80-76 over #13 Kansas (H).

Defeat Points: -14 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 66-67 to #180 Princeton (H).

Arizona State suffered a hearbreaker as Bennie Boatwright nailed a last second 3-pointer to clip the Sun Devils by 2 and prevent them from going 4-0 since the last power rankings update. Still, ASU has the best pair of wins in the conference, is a half game out of second place, and has 3 straight home games coming up. Bobby Hurley’s squad is the conference’s best chance at getting a 2nd at-large bid.

This week’s games: Thursday vs. #67 Arizona

3 (10). USC Trojans, 12-8 (5-2)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 7.97 (90th)

Victory Points: 19 points. Best Win: Q2, 80-57 over #67 Arizona (H).

Defeat Points: -13 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 92-102 2OT to #207 Santa Clara (A).

As mentioned above, USC escaped with a home win against ASU which followed bludgeonings at home of UCLA and Arizona before that. Kevin Porter Jr. is back with the team ending what was ultimately just a 2-game suspension. He’s still only played 57 total minutes since Thankgsiving but if he starts playing like the projected lottery pick he is then USC is a darkhorse conference title contender. But for that to happen USC will have to beat Washington on the road tomorrow night.

This week’s games: Wednesday vs. #31 Washington, Saturday vs. #208 Washington State

4 (6). Utah Utes, 11-8 (5-2)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 5.05 (119th)

Victory Points: 20 points. Best Win: Q1, 96-86 over #61 Arizona State (A).

Defeat Points: -14 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 79-90 to #166 Hawaii (N).

The Utes have rebounded from their brutal start to conference play with 4 wins in a row. Although those games all came against the bottom-4 teams in the conference so I’m not convinced that Utah will stay in the top half of the standings for very long. They only have the Bay Area teams on the schedule once and got to play them last week. The Utes have a nice cushion but they’re only favorites by more than 55% in one more game the rest of the season.

This week’s games: Thursday vs. #66 Oregon, Saturday vs. #77 Oregon State

5 (1). Arizona Wildcats, 14-7 (5-3), Projected NIT team

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 10.55 (65th)

Victory Points: 27 points. Best Win: Q1, 71-66 over #12 Iowa State (N).

Defeat Points: -10 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 69-90 to #97 UCLA (A).

Arizona got decimated in both of its games last week visiting the L.A schools as they lost by 20+ in each game. Part of that was the loss of Chase Jeter who is really the only player on the roster capable of being a true center on both the offensive and defensive ends. Jeter suffered a back injury and his status is unknown moving forward. Arizona’s next two games are at ASU and home hosting Washington. If they lose both of them then their dreams of an NCAA at-large bid are officially over.

This week’s games: Thursday at #61 Arizona State

6 (3). Oregon State Beavers, 12-7 (4-3)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 9.37 (72nd)

Victory Points: 21 points. Best Win: Q1, 77-72 over #66 Oregon (A).

Defeat Points: -14 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 63-66 to #138 Kent State (H).

The Beavers went 0-3 in Q1/Q2 opportunities in the last 2 weeks which wasn’t exactly unexpected but relegates them to Pac-12 tourney title or bust as far as NCAA hopes go. The fearsome foursome of Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr., Ethan Thompson, and Kyler Kelley are good enough to keep this team in the upper half of the standings but it turns out thoughts of a conference title were a little ambitious.

This week’s games: Thursday at #105 Colorado, Saturday at #89 Utah

7 (4). UCLA Bruins, 11-9 (4-3)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 8.45 (83rd)

Victory Points: 19 points. Best Win: Q1, 65-62 over #66 Oregon (A).

Defeat Points: -14 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 72-74 to #72 Belmont (H).

I was skeptical that UCLA had turned a corner after a 3-1 Pac-12 start post-Alford firing and it turns out my skepticism was well founded as they’ve gone 1-2 since then. The talent is undeniably there. Freshman center Moses Brown now leads the country in offensive rebound percentage. Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands are both potential 1st round picks. But the whole just isn’t larger than the sum of the parts. It is somewhat amusing that Belmont and Liberty are now both top-75 teams at KenPom and so not quite the fire-able offenses that they seemed when Alford was jettisoned (although I still think getting rid of him was the right move and only the timing was debatable).

This week’s games: Wednesday at #208 Washington State, Saturday at #31 Washington

8 (7). Oregon Ducks, 12-8 (3-4)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 12.97 (52nd)

Victory Points: 22 points. Best Win: Q1, 80-65 over #48 Syracuse (N).

Defeat Points: -16 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 84-89 to #233 Texas Southern (H).

The Ducks were incredibly close to pulling off a massive comeback and dethroning Washington last Thursday but couldn’t execute down the stretch. Oregon will likely continue to be a better team than their conference record shows as they will likely end the year with the hardest schedule in the Pac-12. They only get to play the Mountain schools on the road and only get Cal/Stanford once as well. That means home and homes with 6 of the 7 teams that I have ranked above them.

This week’s games: Thursday at #89 Utah, Saturday at #105 Colorado

9 (8). Stanford Cardinal, 10-10 (3-5)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 4.27 (133rd)

Victory Points: 13 points. Best Win: Q2, 85-71 over #61 Arizona State (H).

Defeat Points: -15 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 66-77 to #89 Utah (H).

Stanford is still feisty and certainly capable of beating everyone in the conference at home. But they have yet to beat a top-200 team away from Maples Pavilion this season in 8 tries (obviously that looks different if Lagerald Vick doesn’t hit a 3 to send the Kansas game to OT). Stanford is 9th since Pac-12 play started in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Seems pretty logical to put them 9th here as well.

This week’s games: Sunday at #269 California

10 (9). Colorado Buffaloes, 11-8 (2-5)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 7.07 (96th)

Victory Points: 14 points. Best win: Q3, 100-71 over #145 Drake (H).

Defeat Points: -16 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 67-72 to #183 Hawaii (N).

McKinley Wright ended up only missing one game with the shoulder injury he sustained against Washington which was good news but Namon Wright returned to the lineup only to play 5 minutes and is back out again. The only two conference wins for Colorado are against the teams below them so this is an easy call. There’s talent on this team but the depth just isn’t quite there to make them a contender for anything more than a 7th place finish this year.

This week’s games: Thursday vs. #77 Oregon State, Saturday at #66 Oregon

11 (11). Washington State Cougars, 8-12 (1-6)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -4.44 (211th)

Victory Points: 8 points. Best Win: Q4, 94-80 over #163 Rider (H).

Defeat Points: -27 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 90-95 to #267 Montana State (H/N).

Getting back Robert Franks has helped as the Cougars have at least been a little bit feisty in the 4 games since his return. Between Franks and Elleby it’s clear that Washington State has two above average starters. But they’ve got basically nothing else and the defense has been abysmal. Wazzu is the 2nd worst power conference team in the country but luckily for them...

This week’s games: Wednesday vs. #97 UCLA, Saturday vs. #76 USC

12 (12). California Golden Bears, 5-15 (0-8)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -10.27 (284th)

Victory Points: 6 points. Best Win: Q3, 89-83 over #155 San Diego State (H).

Defeat Points: -32 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 73-82 to #174 Seattle (H).

Cal has gotten within single digits 3 times during their current 9-game losing streak (at exactly 9 points each time though). But they are 346th in 2-pt defense and 335th in 3-pt defense. Somehow the Bears haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Just keep sinking, just keep sinking, just keep, just keep, just keep sinking.

This week’s games: Sunday vs. #117 Stanford


The NCAA selection committee will once again be using the quadrant system rather than the simple record vs the top-50 and top-100 they used historically. Here’s the definition for each of the tiers if you want a refresher. The NET replaces the RPI this season but until we have access to those rankings I’m using KenPom to determine which quadrant a game falls into.

Q1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75

Q2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135

Q3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240

Q4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus.

I’m including Victory and Defeat points as a shorthand for a team’s resume this year. You earn 4 Victory points for a Q1 win, 3 for a Q2 win, etc. The opposite is true for Defeat Points where you lose 4 points for a Q4 loss, 3 points for a Q3 loss, etc. The higher your net point total the better your resume.


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