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Pac-12 MBB Power Rankings: Muddle in the Middle

There’s still a wide open race for spots 2 through 10 in the conference standings

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, 22-5 (13-1), Projected #8 Seed

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 16.57 (36th)

Victory Points: 45 points. Best Win: Q1, 61-56 over #75 Oregon (A).

Defeat Points: -6 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 66-68 to #59 Minnesota (N).

Washington clinched at least a share of a Pac-12 title on Saturday with their win over Colorado. And it’s all but certain that they will be the outright conference champion. The Huskies will be favored in every game until the NCAA tournament but there are still several spots that could trip them up including at Stanford on Sunday and home games against the Oregon schools next week. But if they take care of business and lose no more than one more game through the Pac-12 tournament then the Dawgs will likely be either a #6 or #7 seed in the NCAA tournament ending their drought.

This week’s games: Thursday at #278 California, Sunday at #103 Stanford

2 (2). Arizona State Sun Devils, 19-8 (10-5), Bubble Team

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 11.56 (58th)

Victory Points: 36 points. Best Win: Q1, 80-76 over #17 Kansas (H).

Defeat Points: -14 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 70-91 to #170 Washington State (H).

ASU is in most brackets but just miss the cut in my tournament projections. They have the toughest remaining schedule of any Pac-12 team with 3 road games against the numbers 3, 5, and 6 teams in the conference per KenPom. Going 2-1 plus making the Pac-12 tournament final is probably good enough to get them in but anything worse than that likely won’t be enough unless there are fewer than normal bid thieves this year. I could easily see the Sun Devils ending up in the First Four in Dayton for the second consecutive year.

This week’s games: Thursday at #75 Oregon, Sunday at #79 Oregon State

3 (4). Oregon State Beavers, 17-9 (9-5)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 8.9 (76th)

Victory Points: 34 points. Best Win: Q1, 77-72 over #75 Oregon (A).

Defeat Points: -18 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 63-66 to #136 Kent State (H).

Oregon State appears in very good shape to secure a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament if they can win a home game against Arizona and beat Wazzu on the road. This team would probably need to upset the Huskies in Seattle next week to make the NIT and even if they lose out until the Pac-12 final they won’t make the NCAA tournament. Tres Tinkle is still a contender for Pac-12 player of the year but once again it’d take a 4-0 finish for the Beavers to be close enough for him to have a shot at beating out Jaylen Nowell or Matisse Thybulle.

This week’s games: Thursday vs. #82 Arizona, Sunday vs. #63 Arizona State

4 (10). UCLA Bruins, 15-13 (8-7)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 6.89 (96th)

Victory Points: 26 points. Best Win: Q1, 65-62 over #75 Oregon (A).

Defeat Points: -23 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 92-93 to #101 Utah (H).

I don’t really want to do this but UCLA is currently tied for 5th place and they’re one of only 4 teams, along with the ones ahead of them, to have a winning record over the last 2 weeks so here we are. The 3-1 record during that time was only possible because they outscored Oregon 30-11 in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half on Saturday after facing an 18-point deficit to rip out the Duck’s hearts for the 2nd time this season. This team is still one of the 3 most talented teams in the conference and if they have everything clicking then they’re capable of beating anyone else. But with an interim head coach and generally undisciplined roster they could also lose to anyone but Cal.

This week’s games: Thursday vs. #87 USC

5 (5). Utah Utes, 15-12 (9-6)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 5.64 (109th)

Victory Points: 30 points. Best Win: Q1, 96-86 over #63 Arizona State (A).

Defeat Points: -21 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 79-90 to #188 Hawaii (N).

The tiebreaker between Utah and Colorado is that Utah is 2 games up in the conference standings. Unless you count a home loss to Oregon, the Utes have done a pretty good job of avoiding a truly bad loss which is how they’re 4th in the standings. There’s a chance that Utah could remain 4th and get a 1st round bye in the Pac-12 tournament with a 1-2 record but just to be safe the Utes should shoot for sweeping their remaining 2 home games just to be sure.

This week’s games: Saturday at #76 Colorado

6 (6). Colorado Buffaloes, 16-11 (7-8)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 9.25 (72nd)

Victory Points: 28 points. Best win: Q2, 77-73 over #63 Arizona State (H).

Defeat Points: -23 points. Worst Loss: Q2, 67-72 to #198 Indiana State (N).

There’s a good chance that Colorado will end the year ranked higher than this since they’re the only other team besides Washington to be favored in the rest of their regular season games. If the Buffs are able to sweep home games against Utah and the L.A schools then they’d finish 10-8 and depending on the tiebreakers could end up with a 1st round bye in the Pac-12 tournament. And it would be great for the Huskies if they win all 3 of their remaining games as they’re currently 76th in the NET and getting into the top-75 would boost the optics of Washington’s wins over them.

This week’s games: Saturday vs. #101 Utah

7 (9). USC Trojans, 15-13 (8-7)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 7.84 (90th)

Victory Points: 24 points. Best Win: Q2, 69-67 over #63 Arizona State (H).

Defeat Points: -26 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 92-102 2OT to #197 Santa Clara (A).

USC also ends their schedule with 3 straight road games which isn’t a great sign for them. The Trojans have just 3 wins all season away from Los Angeles and they were against Washington State, California, and Missouri State. They’ve yet to beat a top-150 team on the road and now they have 3 straight such games to close out the year. This...could end poorly.

This week’s games: Thursday at #109 UCLA

8 (11). Arizona Wildcats, 16-12 (7-8)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 8.33 (85th)

Victory Points: 30 points. Best Win: Q1, 71-66 over #12 Iowa State (N).

Defeat Points: -21 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 55-69 to #170 Washington State (H).

The Wildcats pulled out of their tailspin with a home sweep of the Bay Area schools following their 7-game losing streak. News came out on Monday that Sean Miller was in fact subpoenaed and will have to testify in court in the upcoming Christian Dawkins trial. Even if Arizona rebounds and has a good end to the season (which is no guarantee with the Oregon road trip plus hosting ASU left) there’s a chance that Miller gets axed. If Miller admits to NCAA violations under oath you can bet that the Arizona board of regents don’t want it to be while he’s still the head coach representing their school.

This week’s games: Thursday at #79 Oregon State, Saturday at #75 Oregon

9 (7). Washington State Cougars, 11-16 (4-10)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -1.71 (184th)

Victory Points: 17 points. Best Win: Q1, 91-70 over #63 Arizona State (A).

Defeat Points: -38 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 90-95 to #245 Montana State (H/N).

The Cougars managed to pull out a narrow win against Colorado and gave the Huskies all they could handle during their 3-game homestand. This is the team that no one wants to play right now because they’re clearly better than the 170th team in the country right now but everyone outside the conference will see it as a horrible loss. This end to the year is probably enough to convince Wazzu’s leadership not to bite the bullet and fire Ernie Kent with his sizable contract still on the books. So rejoice Husky fans, we should get at least one more year of Ernesto.

This week’s games: Thursday at #103 Stanford, Saturday at #278 California

10 (8). Stanford Cardinal, 14-13 (7-8)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 5.38 (112th)

Victory Points: 22 points. Best Win: Q2, 85-71 over #63 Arizona State (H).

Defeat Points: -20 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 66-77 to #101 Utah (H).

Stanford pulled off a home sweep of the L.A schools but followed it up with two 15+ point losses at the Arizona schools. It seems like two steps forward, two steps back for Stanford this season. They’re 8-0 in Q4 games so they’ve avoided disastrous losses but are 0-8 in Q1 games so they just can’t get over the hump in their premium games. And their best player, KZ Okpala, is likely to bolt for the NBA Draft. This is still one of the youngest teams in the country and should be very good when Davis, Da Silva, and Ryan are all upperclassmen in two years but will Jarod Haase still be around to see that day?

This week’s games: Thursday vs. #170 Washington State, Sunday vs. #29 Washington

11 (3). Oregon Ducks, 15-12 (6-8)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: 9.99 (68th)

Victory Points: 27 points. Best Win: Q1, 80-65 over #44 Syracuse (N).

Defeat Points: -23 points. Worst Loss: Q4, 84-89 to #208 Texas Southern (H).

Whoops. Oregon had a 95% win expectancy against UCLA on Saturday before melting down and allowing Jaylen Hands to hit 7 second half 3-pointers to complete a 3-game road losing streak for Oregon. They’ve now fallen to 10th place in the conference standings and barring a miracle 4 wins in 4 days streak in the Pac-12 tournament will miss the Big Dance for the 2nd consecutive year. The Ducks have another top-10 recruiting class coming in next year with a good shot at adding yet another 5-star. Injuries are a valid excuse for Dana Altman and I still think he’s a legitimately good coach but missing consecutive tournaments coming off a Final Four run has led to some serious grumbles down in Eugene.

This week’s games: Thursday vs. #63 Arizona State, Saturday vs. #82 Arizona

12 (12). California Golden Bears, 5-22 (0-15)

Adjusted Efficiency Margin: -8.74 (270th)

Victory Points: 6 points. Best Win: Q3, 89-83 over #129 San Diego State (H).

Defeat Points: -48 points. Worst Loss: Q3, 73-82 to #186 Seattle (H).

Cal has their best chance at avoiding a winless conference season on Saturday when the host Washington State. If they lose that one then this will go down as the worst season in the conference since 2012 when Utah was went 6-25 (3-15).

This week’s games: Thursday vs. #29 Washington, Saturday vs. #170 Washington State


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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