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California heads Pac-10 Power Rankings

1. California (15-8, 7-4 Pac-10)

Following two straight losses, Cal bounced back nicely with a big win at UCLA on Saturday.

Cal has been the most consistent team in the conference this season — while that doesn’t mean a whole lot, it still means something.

The Golden Bears have the most balanced scoring attack, with four players averaging in double figures. All four of those players are seniors and have been through the stretch run before, and that makes Cal the favorite.

Thursday’s matchup at home against Washington is the game of the year thus far in the Pac-10.

2. Washington (16-7, 6-5 Pac-10)

The hottest team in the conference is UW.


It played its last four games at home, where it is 16-1 this season.

The Huskies’ wins over Washington State, UA and ASU at home proved that they have the talent to win the league, but they must start playing better away from Seattle.

Senior forward Quincy Pondexter is averaging 25.8 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game during the four game winning streak.

Now the test for UW is heading out on the road, where it is 0-6 in conference.

If the Huskies played half as well on the road as they do at home, they would be running away with the conference.

A good step in the right direction would be a win at first-place Cal on Thursday.

3. ASU (16-8, 6-5 Pac-10)

Despite running into a buzz saw on Saturday at UW, ASU still came out of the toughest road trip of the season with a split.

The Sun Devils’ defense has struggled lately, giving up at least 70 points in the last five games.

Without lockdown defense, ASU isn’t going to win the conference.

Now that junior guard Jamelle McMillan is back, we’ll see how big of a role his absence was in the defensive struggles.

ASU must take care of business this weekend at home against Oregon State and Oregon if a conference title is on the horizon.

4. UA (12-11, 6-5 Pac-10)

While ASU got out of the tough Washington road trip with a split, UA wasn’t as fortunate.

After storming into first place with four straight wins, the Wildcats were swept last weekend. The sweep pretty much ended UA’s at-large hopes, but not their conference title dreams.

UA still has loads of talent and finishes with five of its last seven games in Tucson.

Like ASU, this weekend is a must sweep.

5. USC (14-9, 6-5 Pac-10)

After being swept by the Oregon schools two weeks ago, USC rebounded nicely and got back in the title race by knocking off Cal and Stanford last weekend.

The Trojans’ defense was stifling last weekend, and sophomore forward Nikola Vucevic posted two double-doubles.

While a regular-season title for USC is still within reach, it really doesn’t mean anything because the Trojans are not postseason eligible.

USC can be a spoiler, but to do so, it has to get wins at the Washington schools and at ASU and UA.

6. Washington State (15-8, 5-6 Pac-10)

The season could have fallen down the drain fast for WSU when it was down 19 in the second half to ASU on Thursday.

Instead, the Cougars fought back into that game before falling and used that momentum to rout UA on Saturday.

The Cougars’ key to success is improving their defense, which has been less than stellar this season.

WSU has a golden opportunity to sneak into the race with the Bay Area trip this weekend.

7. UCLA (11-12, 6-5 Pac-10)

The Bruins have won four of their last six to get into the title race, but failed to knock of Cal at home to really jump into contention.

Now UCLA must play five of its last seven games on the road, where the young Bruins are unproven.

It is hard to see UCLA winning enough games to take the conference crown, with trips to the Washington schools and the Arizona schools looming.

UCLA is a young team that can beat anyone, but lose to anyone as well.

8. Stanford (10-13, 4-7 Pac-10)

The Cardinal has fallen into last place of the conference after a four-game losing streak. The four losses have all come on the road, where Stanford is 0-10 on the season.

The good news is Stanford finishes the season with five of seven at home where it has been very good this season.

Despite being in last place, the Cardinal won’t finish there.

Senior guard Landry Fields and sophomore guard Jeremy Green give

Stanford a fighting chance to shock the conference during the Pac-10 Tournament.

9. Oregon State (10-12, 4-6 Pac-10)

The Beavers are starting to play better basketball since their early-season struggles, but they lack the star power to make a Pac-10 Tournament run.

The Beavers’ zone defense has kept them in games, but for OSU to win games when it matters, it will need to suddenly find some offense.

Hey, at least it swept Oregon.

10. Oregon (12-10, 4-6 Pac-10)

After a promising sweep of the Los Angeles schools, UO fell flat on its face at OSU and got blown out.

Coach Ernie Kent’s time may be running short in Eugene. Fans aren’t used to losing, especially its rival.

The Ducks’ defense has been bad, and so has senior guard Tajuan Porter, who has now been benched for two straight seasons.

Things have gotten ugly for UO, and barring a major run to end the season, Kent may be looking for a new job.

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