Every Monday, The State Press will be taking a look around the Pac-12 men's basketball landscape as the conference tournament in Las Vegas nears.
Down go the Ducks. Oregon's loss means there is a new No. 1 in the rankings this week as the top three teams in the Pac-12 now all sit in the AP top 10. The benefit of clinching the top seed in the conference is only having to potentially play one of the other two elite teams, which makes the final few weeks even more important for the Pac-12's elite.
1. Arizona (23-3, 12-1 Pac-12)
That's right. Despite a blowout loss in Eugene, Oregon last week, the Wildcats climb back in the top spot thanks to some help. Unfortunately for Arizona, a rematch with the Ducks won't happen until the Pac-12 Tournament, if at all, but I don't think the WIldcats will be too down in the dumps about that one.
2. UCLA (23-3, 10-3 Pac-12)
The Bruins have worked their way back to the second spot in the power rankings by virtue of four wins in a row. Freshman guard Lonzo Ball continues to cement himself as a conference player of the year candidate, as well as a potential top-five pick in June's draft.
3. Oregon (22-4, 11-2 Pac-12)
The Ducks dropped their second road game in a row, but bounced back at USC to maintain their position in the conference. Oregon's toughest test left is a trip to Cal, but the Ducks should cruise to the finish line and hope for the number one seed.
4. Cal (18-7, 9-4 Pac-12)
The Golden Bears' five-game win streak came to an end on Saturday, but Cal still appears to be in a position to earn a first-round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. A head-to-head win over USC while its sophomore guard Bennie Boatwright was out now looms large as a Cal advantage, especially since they don't play again in the regular season.
5. USC (21-5, 8-5 Pac-12)
The Trojans saw their five-game win streak end with a loss to No. 5 Oregon at the Galen Center this week. The road does not get any easier for USC, as they get to see No. 5 UCLA and No. 6 Arizona over the next two weeks.
6. Utah (17-8, 8-5 Pac-12)
The Utes rebounded nicely from a rough trip to California with two wins to reach back toward the NCAA Tournament. Utah is on the outside looking in right now, but a nice few weeks to end the season could push Utah back into contention.
7. ASU (12-14, 5-8 Pac-12)
The Sun Devils won with defense this week, holding Cal and Stanford to 68 and 69 points respectively, but going 1-1. Holding a team under 70 isn't all that notable in college basketball, but it was just the third and fourth times this season ASU has done so.
8. Colorado (15-11, 5-8 Pac-12)
After a rough start to Pac-12 play, the Buffaloes have won five of six games to jump back into the middle of the conference. Four of Colorado's wins have come against the worst of the worst in the league, but a home win over Oregon is one Colorado can hang its hat on.
9. Stanford (12-13, 4-9 Pac-12)
The Cardinal dried up in the desert, falling to both Arizona and ASU for the second time this season. Stanford and ASU, as of right now, would play each other in the first round in Vegas, which could mean trouble for the up-and-down Cardinal.
10. Washington State (11-14, 4-9 Pac-12)
The Cougars have lost four games in a row without much of a fight, losing by 32 to Colorado their last time out. Not much has gone right for Washington State since beating ASU a couple weeks ago, but a lot has to in order to count this season as a success.
11. Washington (9-16, 2-11 Pac-12)
The Huskies are the most tragic story of the season, wasting freshman guard Markelle Fultz's one year of college. If there was one iota of coaching or playing talent elsewhere on the roster, Washington could legitimately make a run at the NCAA Tournament, but Seattle is a wasteland for basketball talent, which is probably why the Sonics left.
12. Oregon State (4-22, 0-13 Pac-12)
It really is a waste of time for the Beavers to play games anymore. Why not just focus on your classwork so you can at least leave Corvallis with a degree, which is far more important than one Pac-12 win, which may or may not come.
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