ASU men’s basketball moving up in Pac-12 power rankings

Not many surprises happened during the sixth week of Pac-12 men’s basketball. Only two teams — UCLA and Stanford — won on the road out of the ten games that were played over the weekend.

Every team in the Pac-12 has played each other at least once already, and the conference is finally starting to follow a pecking order.

 
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Here’s how the conference shakes up heading into rivalry week:

1. UA (23-1, 10-1 Pac-12)

The No. 2 Wildcats looked like they were in trouble at one point in the second half in Thursday’s game against Oregon, as freshman forward Aaron Gordon left the game with an apparent leg injury and the Ducks were up six. UA bounced back and defeated Oregon 67-65, then made a statement over Oregon State by thrashing the Beavers 76-54 Sunday.

The Wildcats play their first road game without sophomore forward Brandon Ashley when they head to Tempe on Friday to face ASU.

2. UCLA (18-5, 7-3 Pac-12)

The Bruins basically got the week off when the only game they played was at USC on Saturday, beating the lowly Trojans 83-73. UCLA will get a tougher challenge next weekend with a homestand against Utah and Colorado.

3. Stanford (15-7, 6-4 Pac-12)

The Cardinal got the biggest win of the week when they defeated rival California 80-69 in Berkeley, Calif., on Wednesday, avenging Stanford’s 69-62 loss to the Golden Bears at home Jan. 2. Coach Johnny Dawkins, who was rumored to be on the hot seat during the offseason, should be a favorite to win Pac-12 Coach of the Year this season.

4. ASU (18-6, 7-4 Pac-12)

The Sun Devils’ last four games went down to the wire, but they were able to come away with wins in three of them. ASU continues to be an impressive team in the Pac-12, with its last win against Oregon increasing the ever-climbing odds that ASU makes the NCAA Tournament.

ASU will have a chance to shine on a national stage, as ESPN will broadcast its home game Friday against UA as part of the network’s “Rivalry Week” showcase.

5. California (15-8, 6-4 Pac-12)

Yeah, the Golden Bears gave UA its first loss of the season Feb. 1, but that was Cal’s only win in its last five games. The Golden Bears certainly have talent, but Cal isn’t exactly the most consistent team in the conference.

6. Colorado (18-6, 7-4 Pac-12)

Fending off both Washington schools at home over the weekend was an encouraging sign for the Buffaloes, proving they still can be competitive even without junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Colorado has been getting some nice contributions in his place, as junior guard Askia Booker dropped 26 points Wednesday and 20 Sunday and sophomore forward Xavier Johnson scored 27 Sunday.

7. Utah (16-7, 5-6 Pac-12)

The Utes also had a big weekend at home by defeating the Washington schools. Utah heads to UCLA on Saturday looking to upset the Bruins for the second time this season.

8. Washington (13-11, 5-6 Pac-12)

The Huskies came up empty in their Rocky Mountain road trip, giving up a huge run in the second half in Utah and getting blown out in Colorado. Other than beating ASU on the road in the first game of conference play, the Huskies are lacking wins over the top-tier Pac-12 teams.

9. Oregon State (13-10, 5-6 Pac-12)

The Beavers pushed ASU to overtime Thursday and nearly upset the Sun Devils, but they couldn’t keep up in the extra period. It was a different story on Sunday, though, when UA blew Oregon State out.

The Beavers have a chance to sweep their season series with rival Oregon next Sunday.

10. Oregon (15-8, 3-8 Pac-12)

The Ducks’ conference season might be the saddest story in the Pac-12. Oregon had to salvage its sinking ship of a season by beating at least one of the Arizona schools, but the Ducks lost to UA and ASU over the weekend by a combined four points. Once regarded as a top-10 team in all of college basketball earlier this season, Oregon is on the verge of being the highest-ranked team in the RPI ever to miss the NCAA Tournament.

11. Washington State (9-14, 2-9 Pac-12)

The Cougars are winless on the road in Pac-12 play, so it wasn’t a surprise at all when they dropped both of their games at Colorado and Utah over the weekend. Washington State dropped six of its last seven games, and that trend will likely continue with a homestand against Cal and Stanford coming up.

12. USC (10-13, 1-9 Pac-12)

If a season seems lost for teams that are struggling, they often steal a game against their rival to give the year some silver lining. Unfortunately, the Trojans lost to UCLA on Thursday and couldn’t avoid being on the bottom end of a season sweep, so there goes that opportunity.

Reach the reporter at jnacion@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion