Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week 1

Posted by Mike Lemaire on November 22nd, 2016

The first full week of the season is finished so it is time for the first of what will be a recurring feature called Pac-12 Power Rankings. Each week we will take a look at where each team in the conference stands to date.

Finnish 7' Lauri Markkanen has been everything expected and more for the Wildcats. (Arizona Athletics)

Finnish center Lauri Markkanen has been everything and more for the Wildcats. (Arizona Athletics)

  1. Arizona: The Wildcats boast the best win of any team in the conference (Michigan State) and are still missing arguably their best player in Allonzo Trier. Lauri Markkanen has so far lived up to the hype and classmate Kobi Simmons has been surprisingly efficient offensively. Sean Miller’s club is posting the best defensive numbers in the conference and if Trier returns soon, Arizona could be poised for another excellent season.
  2. UCLA: The Bruins haven’t played anyone of note so we should reserve some judgment here but so far they have looked very good. Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf have been everything UCLA fans ever could have hoped for. Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford are two of the most complementary pieces in the conference, especially when they are shooting well, and Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh provide quality depth across the board. Steve Alford deserves some credit for the Bruins’ early potency in a key season for this program.
  3. Oregon: Dillon Brooks is officially back and working toward full strength, which is a very good thing. But the Ducks have issues. The offense (shooting in particular) has been very bad in the team’s two losses to Baylor and Georgetown, and turnovers have been a big bugaboo as well. Chris Boucher looked like the No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick against Valparaiso but has also disappeared against good teams, and neither Tyler Dorsey nor Dylan Ennis are back on track. The return of Brooks should ease a lot of these concerns, but there is still some work to do in Eugene.
  4. USC: It wasn’t pretty but the Trojans edged Texas A&M in College Station and that easily ranks as the conference’s second best win to date. Andy Enfield has his young team playing excellent defense and the offense will improve as shooting percentages revert to the mean. Super sophomore Bennie Boatright played against the Aggies for the first time all season and USC has enough talent and depth to make things interesting among the top tier of the Pac-12.
  5. Stanford: We will learn a lot about Stanford as soon as the Cardinal play Miami, Saint Mary’s and Kansas in the next two weeks. But for now, the team is 4-0 under new coach Jerod Haase and the his defense has been very stingy. The Cardinal haven’t played a worthwhile team yet, but they weren’t playing total pushovers either. At a minimum, Haase has pushed the team to play hard, which should help Stanford stay afloat in these rankings for now.

    So far, so good for Jerod Haase and Stanford. (Tahoe Daily Tribune)

    So far, so good for Jerod Haase at Stanford. (Tahoe Daily Tribune)

  6. Colorado: The Buffaloes spotted Notre Dame a 15-point halftime lead in the Legends Classic last night but showed some moxie in fighting back and making the game competitive until the very end. The Fighting Irish are a battle-tested group and Colorado looked plenty capable in playing them competitively. Division II transfer Derrick White looks like the real deal; Wesley Gordon is a rebounding machine; and it seems like everyone in the rotation other than Gordon is a threat to shoot it from deep. The Buffs’ defense was not great against Notre Dame but if it can hold opponents around 1.00 points per possession, Colorado will be tough to handle.
  7. California: Despite Ivan Rabb‘s triumphant return to the lineup last night, the Bears still took one on the chin from San Diego State. Cal was also missing Jabari Bird, who will make a difference when he returns, but there just aren’t many offensive weapons on Cuonzo Martin‘s roster. Freshman Charlie Moore hung 38 on UC Irvine and 17 on the Aztecs, but he can’t be the focal point on the perimeter if Cal wants to stay competitive in this conference. Bird will need to prove he is even better than he was last season for Cal to eventually make some noise.
  8. Utah: The Utes appear to have some nice pieces but let’s revisit where they fit on this list once they have played Butler. If they beat the Bulldogs next Monday, then we can talk about this team in a serious manner. Until then, we refuse to talk about a team that has played twice as many Division II opponents as Division I opponents.
  9. Washington: The Huskies’ season-opening loss to Yale was mildly embarrassing but they have rebounded nicely to win their next two games. Yes, those games were against pushover opponents but it was still nice to see Washington hold a team to under 80 points. Markelle Fultz is a monster who deserves our full and undivided attention (order Pac-12 Nets now) and Matisse Thybulle has been a pleasant surprise as an offensive weapon.
  10. Arizona State: Losses to Northern Iowa and Davidson will always look worse than it was because the Panthers and Wildcats have made a habit of surprising Power 5 teams early in the season. That said, the Sun Devils haven’t been great on either end of the court yet and are still noticeably undersized against most opponents. There are several pieces of something good here, but the puzzle has not yet been put together.
  11. Washington State: The Cougars have once again stumbled out of the gate. They were thrashed by Creighton and let Loyola-Chicago cruise to a victory last night in an uninspired performance. Josh Hawkinson is still good and Ike Iroegbu and Conor Clifford aren’t bad either, but Ernie Kent would probably appreciate if Derrien King (10-of-36 on the season) would stop missing so many shots.
  12. Oregon State: The Beavers have been without Stephen Thompson, Jr. but that is not a valid excuse for losing to Lamar. Scoring 0.81 points per possession against one of the worst teams in the country is inexcusable in much the same way as turning the ball over 27 times in one game. Oregon State followed that up by turning the ball over 20 times in a blowout loss to Nevada and now the Beavers already find themselves well behind the eight-ball much earlier than expected.
mlemaire (324 Posts)

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