Pac-12 power rankings: Momentum continues to shift in men’s basketball

It’s going to be a sprint to the finish in the final two weeks of the Pac-12 men’s basketball regular season.

With each team having three or four games left, none of the 12 seeds in the conference appears to be a lock, even the No. 1 seed. Every team has its sights on either getting a favorable seed in the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas on March 12 and/or securing a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Remember, the first four seeds in the Pac-12 Tournament get a bye in the first round.

 

 

Here’s how the Pac-12 shakes up toward the end of the regular season:

1. UA (25-2, 12-2 Pac-12)

The Wildcats looked like a falling star when they lost to ASU on Feb. 14 and barely survived in overtime at Utah on Feb. 19, but UA responded by thrashing Colorado in Boulder, Colo., last Saturday. Winning out on the Rocky Mountain road trip helped the Wildcats keep the top spot with a two-game lead.

2. UCLA (21-6, 10-4 Pac-12)

The Bruins were about to gain the No. 1 spot all the way up until they lost at Stanford 83-74 last Saturday. No one played better basketball than UCLA in its previous four games, but the Bruins have only won half of their conference games on the road.

UCLA’s final four games aren’t too difficult. The Bruins host the Oregon schools starting Feb. 27, then they close the season out at the Washington schools the following week.

3. Stanford (18-8, 9-5 Pac-12)

The Cardinal had a relatively embarrassing loss to Washington back on Feb. 12, but that ends up being the lone blemish as Stanford has won five out of its last six games. A tough road trip at ASU and UA lies ahead, which has huge implications for Stanford’s seeding in the Pac-12 Tournament.

4. Colorado (20-8, 9-6 Pac-12)

It seems like the Buffaloes have figured out how to play without junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Colorado won five of six games — including a quality win over ASU on Feb. 19 — before UA crushed the Buffaloes at home last Saturday. Even if Colorado lost its final three games at Utah, California and Stanford, the Buffaloes will most likely be in the Big Dance again this year.

5. ASU (19-8, 8-6 Pac-12)

Beating UA on Feb. 14 may have made the Sun Devils’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament probable, but it looked like ASU’s hangover was still lingering when it dropped both games at Colorado and Utah over the weekend. The last four games of the regular season are huge for the Sun Devils, as they host Stanford and California at home then travel to OSU and Oregon.

6. Utah (18-9, 7-8 Pac-12)

Losing to UA in overtime at home stung, but the Utes followed it up by blowing out ASU last Sunday. The first half of conference play was a rollercoaster for Utah, but it looks like the Utes are starting to figure things out as they were on a three-game winning streak at one point.

7. California (18-9, 9-5 Pac-12)

It’s not that the Golden Bears have been playing poorly. It’s just the other teams near them in the conference standings have all caught fire lately, and Cal hasn’t had any convincing wins since beating UA back on Feb. 1 to show its dominance. The Golden Bears have a chance to sweep the season series against the Wildcats when they go on their Arizona road trip this weekend.

8. Oregon (18-8, 6-8 Pac-12)

Since losing both games on the Arizona road trip three weeks ago, the Ducks are on a three-game winning streak and have been playing their best basketball in conference play. Bad news for Oregon: The Ducks are still not in position to make it back into the NCAA Tournament. Good news for Oregon: It’s starting to build some momentum heading into the Pac-12 Tournament, where the Ducks could get an automatic NCAA bid if they win it all.

9. Washington (15-13, 7-8 Pac-12)

Beating Stanford back on Feb. 12 was huge for the Huskies, but it hasn’t been a very fun February for Washington as it has lost five of its last seven games. The Huskies might have the easiest finish to the season with all three of their last games at home.

10. Oregon State (14-12, 6-8 Pac-12)

Life has been rough for the Beavers lately. Oregon State has lost four of its last five, and it all started when the Beavers lost at ASU in overtime back on Feb. 6. Oregon State should win its next game at USC on Thursday, but the Beavers have UCLA, UA and ASU all lined up after. Not a good way to end the regular season.

11. Washington State (9-18, 2-13 Pac-12)

The Cougars were so close to beating California on Feb. 12, but the Golden Bears ended up winning by four in overtime. Even though WSU has put up a competitive effort in several games this season, the Cougars haven’t able to figure anything out as they’re currently on a six-game losing streak.

12. USC (10-17, 1-13 Pac-12)

The Trojans were a half away from snapping their seven-game losing streak Sunday until the Golden Bears pulled away and put the game out of reach from USC. If the Trojans and the Cougars keep playing at their current paces, their March 6 meeting in Pullman, Wash., should determine who gets the 11th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.

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