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Pac-12 Basketball Power Rankings: Multi-Bid League?

UW’s loss to Arizona State on Saturday was bad for the Huskies but might have kept the hopes for a multi-bid Pac-12 alive

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-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 (1). Washington Huskies, 19-5 (10-1), Projected #8 Seed

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 16.62 (37th)

Victory Points: 40 points. Best Win: Q1, 61-56 over #70 Oregon (A).

Defeat Points: -6 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 66-68 to #58 Minnesota (N).

The Huskies finally suffered their first defeat in conference play which snapped a 12-game winning streak. The Sun Devils when motivated are almost certainly the 2nd best team in the Pac-12 and so losing a road game there when you’re a bit shorthanded is by no means embarrassing. It’s fortunate for the Dawgs that they get a full week to get healthy before traveling for a Saturday tilt in Pullman. KenPom gives Washington at least a 65% chance to win each of their remaining conference games so as long as they avoid multiple stunning losses they’re still almost assured a conference title.

This week’s games: Saturday at #176 Washington State

2 (2). Arizona State Sun Devils, 16-7 (7-4), Projected NIT

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 10.82 (64th)

Victory Points: 36 points. Best Win: Q1, 80-76 over #18 Kansas (H).

Defeat Points: -14 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 70-91 to #176 Washington State (H).

After last Thursday when ASU lost at home by 21 to Washington State I wanted to drop them to 11th. But they still managed home wins against Washington and Arizona and there’s no question that the Sun Devils are still well positioned to get a 1st round bye in the Pac-12 tournament and are the only other team besides UW capable of potentially ending up with an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. However, that tiebreaker won’t come into play if they take another slide. 5 of the next 7 games for ASU are on the road against teams in the top-8 of the conference. The good news is it gives them the potential for 1 Q1 and 4 Q2 wins to shore up their NCAA resume. The bad news is those games being harder makes it less likely they emerge victorious. It’ll probably take a 6-1 record down the stretch for them to realistically be in position to get in without winning the Pac-12 tournament.

This week’s games: Wednesday at #80 Colorado, Sunday at #97 Utah

3 (8). Oregon Ducks, 15-9 (6-5)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 12.28 (55th)

Victory Points: 27 points. Best Win: Q1, 80-65 over #48 Syracuse (N).

Defeat Points: -18 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 84-89 to #215 Texas Southern (H).

Oregon dropped a road game to Colorado by 22 points over the last two weeks but still managed to go 3-1 over that span including the nice road win over Utah. The computers still view Oregon as the 2nd best team in the conference and the win over Syracuse still mostly holds up. The Ducks have played the easiest Pac-12 schedule to this point per KenPom but it’s a doozy over the final month with 5 road games including at OSU and UW plus home games against the Arizona schools. But if the Ducks were to sweep or go 6-1 down the stretch then they’d be on the bubble and could theoretically still get an at-large berth if their lone remaining loss came in the Pac-12 tournament final.

This week’s games: Saturday at #89 Oregon State

4 (6). Oregon State Beavers, 15-8 (7-4)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 7.37 (93rd)

Victory Points: 30 points. Best Win: Q1, 77-72 over #64 Oregon (A).

Defeat Points: -18 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 63-66 to #140 Kent State (H).

The Beavers also went 3-1 over the same stretch except their loss was a less understandable slip-up at home against Stanford. If the fighting Tinkles are able to emerge victorious on Saturday against the Ducks then they’ll have a great shot at a top-4 seed and an NIT berth. But their non-conference made it impossible for an NCAA berth even if they go 9-0 before losing the Pac-12 tournament final.

This week’s games: Saturday vs. #64 Oregon

5 (4). Utah Utes, 13-10 (7-4)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 5.69 (110th)

Victory Points: 26 points. Best Win: Q1, 96-86 over #72 Arizona State (A).

Defeat Points: -19 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 79-90 to #172 Hawaii (N).

By all rights Utah should’ve gone 1-3 since the last power rankings as they were down 20+ points in the 2nd half at UCLA. But the Bruins fouled up 3 with 6 seconds left and Utah hit a buzzer beater 3 to emerge victorious and salvage a split. The Utes are still tied for 2nd place and so they get to remain in this tier but another 2-2 week will likely see them drop further. The non-conference was week enough that even the NIT seems like a stretch unless they finish 6-1 or better the rest of the way.

This week’s games: Thursday vs. #85 Arizona, Saturday vs. #72 Arizona State

6 (10). Colorado Buffaloes, 14-9 (5-6)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 9.25 (74th)

Victory Points: 22 points. Best win: Q3, 100-71 over #145 Drake (H).

Defeat Points: -20 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 67-72 to #194 Indiana State (N).

The Buffs were a 2-point loss at home against Oregon State away from a perfect 2 weeks that has gotten them back into the mix of things. The sophomore duo of Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright IV means that this Colorado team will likely continue to get better over the next 2+ seasons and getting back to finish 0.500 in conference play would be a nice accomplishment after a disappointing 2-6 start.

This week’s games: Wednesday vs. #72 Arizona State, Sunday vs. #85 Arizona

7 (11). Washington State Cougars, 10-14 (3-8)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -1.62 (177th)

Victory Points: 15 points. Best Win: Q1, 91-70 over #72 Arizona State (A).

Defeat Points: -33 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 90-95 to #249 Montana State (H/N).

What to do with the Cougars? The back-to-back double digit road wins at the Arizona schools was one of the more impressive feats for any team in the conference so far during Pac-12 play. Considering that they hadn’t won a game against a team ranked better than 247th in KenPom before this week it becomes almost unfathomable. Robert Franks won a well-deserved Pac-12 player of the week award for his play and the Cougars are now 3-5 with him in conference play which isn’t great but is at least semi-competitive. Franks in Pac-12 play is now shooting 60% on 2-pointers, 45.8% on 3-pointers, and 100% on FTs (27 of 27). That’s incredible. Franks was missing during round one of the basketball Apple Cup and you can be sure that UW will not be looking ahead when they play on Saturday.

This week’s games: Saturday vs. #31 Washington

8 (9). Stanford Cardinal, 12-11 (5-6)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 5.25 (117th)

Victory Points: 18 points. Best Win: Q2, 85-71 over #72 Arizona State (H).

Defeat Points: -17 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 66-77 to #97 Utah (H).

The Cardinal emerged from their 3-game road trip with a pair of wins to move them into the tie for 7th place in the standings. Stanford is incredibly young but there’s enough raw talent here that as the season goes on and they learn to play with one another they might be finding their groove and could play spoiler for the teams at the top of the conference. Inconsistency seems like more of a problem than talent but there does appear to be a bit of a ceiling. They’re 0-7 against teams ranked in the top-55 of KenPom but this is the Pac-12 so only Oregon and Washington meet that standard so there will be plenty more chances for wins.

This week’s games: Wednesday vs. #96 USC, Saturday vs. #102 UCLA

9 (3). USC Trojans, 13-11 (6-5)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 6.61 (100th)

Victory Points: 20 points. Best Win: Q2, 69-67 over #72 Arizona State (H).

Defeat Points: -21 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 92-102 2OT to #197 Santa Clara (A).

USC managed a win at Washington State but dropped both home games to the mountain schools this week. Kevin Porter Jr. has been back for 6 games now and is averaging just 6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game on 40% shooting from the floor (plus 2.6 TOs per game) in that time. The top-end talent is there with Boatwright and Rakocevic but they need a playmaking guard, which was supposed to be Porter, to bring everything together. Only 2 of their losses were by more than 7 points and they were on the road at Oregon and UW so they’ll generally be competitive in every game from here on out but this is a lost season before a top-5 recruiting class comes in next fall.

This week’s games: Wednesday at #107 Stanford, Saturday at #265 California

10 (7). UCLA Bruins, 12-12 (5-6)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 7.47 (91st)

Victory Points: 20 points. Best Win: Q1, 65-62 over #64 Oregon (A).

Defeat Points: -21 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 73-84 to #80 Colorado (H).

UCLA had one of the most improbable comebacks in Pac-12 history earlier this year when they were down 10 with one minute remaining and won in overtime (6th most improbable comeback this season per KenPom). Well, karma’s a bitch. Because the Bruins led by 17 points with 6 minutes remaining and had a 99.6% chance of winning. Utah went on a 16-4 run over the next 5 minutes and then UCLA missed 2 free throws while Utah made 3 3-pointers in the final minute including a buzzer beater to win it by one. It was the 10th most unlikely comeback of the season per KenPom. The Bruins need to get in a real coach once this season’s over to turn things around but until then this team will coast through the rest of the year.

This week’s games: Wednesday at #265 California, Saturday at #107 Stanford

11 (5). Arizona Wildcats, 14-10 (5-6),

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 8.33 (85th)

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

Defeat Points: -18 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 55-69 to #176 Washington State (H).

When you combine on and off court results this was probably the worst week of Sean Miller’s career. His 3rd assistant coach during his tenure has been tied to NCAA violations and is set to be fired and the Wildcats are on a 5-game losing streak after starting Pac-12 play 5-1. Arizona has had at least one starter missing due to injury in each of those games but that doesn’t excuse losing to Wazzu by 14 points at home. It really feels like either the team has given up on Sean Miller or else Miller sees the writing on the wall and has given up on the team. Either Brandon Williams comes back healthy and they start playing better or Miller really has lost the team and they finish with a losing record in Pac-12 play for the first time since Kevin O’Neill’s lone year in 2008.

This week’s games: Thursday at #97 Utah, Sunday at #80 Colorado

12 (12). California Golden Bears, 5-18 (0-11)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -8.74 (270th)

Victory Points: 6 points. Best Win: Q3, 89-83 over #145 San Diego State (H).

Defeat Points: -39 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 73-82 to #186 Seattle (H).

Cal actually had an 80% chance of defeating Stanford at home with a 7-point lead and 6 minutes remaining but predictably faltered down the stretch. The good news is that Cal has had enough time at the bottom of the power rankings to fully furnish this spot. That throw rug really ties the room together. Nice call, Cal.

This week’s games: Wednesday vs. #102 UCLA, Sunday vs. #96 USC


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 as the metric used to sort team.

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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