Pac-12 Weekly Power Rankings: Vol. I

Posted by Pac-12 Team on January 4th, 2017

If you think one week into the conference schedule is an odd time to release our inaugural Pac-12 Power Rankings, you might have a decent case. However, we would argue that now is the best time to release our power rankings because the first weekend of conference play taught us a lot about a number of teams. For example, we now know that USC isn’t quite as good as its record and that Utah is likely better than its non-conference performance suggested. We will be updating this list weekly.

Dillon Brooks Daggered UCLA Last Week to Open Conference Play (USA Today Images)

Dillon Brooks Daggered UCLA Last Week to Open Conference Play (USA Today Images)

1. Oregon: Lost amid the start of the Dillon Brooks Revival Tour was the emergence of freshman Payton Pritchard as a legitimate playmaker. The precocious guard amassed 16 assists in his first two Pac-12 games and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Ducks’ offense looked more potent as a result. If he can continue to distribute the ball so effectively, it should alleviate some of the team’s offensive concerns moving forward.

2. UCLA: Let’s not focus on losing to a Dillon Brooks leaner. Process above results and UCLA was mostly UCLA during its recent trip to Oregon. You know who wasn’t? Isaac Hamilton. The Bruins’ guard shot 1-of-16 for the weekend — is this an anomaly or a trend? Most likely the former as Isaac is a career 45 percent shooter. He’ll recover, but the Bruins’ first road trip in conference play was a staunch reminder that the core of this team was 15-17 one season ago and still plays very little defense.

3. Arizona: While Oregon was stealing headlines at the front end of opening week, the Wildcats were quietly completing an impressive road sweep in the Bay Area. The best development for Arizona may be the arrival of its frontcourt as a legitimate offensive complement to the backcourt. Over the weekend, Lauri Markkanen, Chance Comanche, and Dusan Ristic shot 29-of-39 from the field and combined for 76 points. Arizona is already a great defensive team (81.7 DRtg after two conference games), but if they find consistently balanced scoring, look out.

4. USC: The Trojans’ defense was exposed somewhat during the team’s weekend trip to Oregon and their complete inability to force turnovers was particularly glaring. Oregon State is one of the 10 most turnover-prone teams in college basketball but the Beavers gave it up just eight times against USC; Oregon was even more comfortable offensively (only six turnovers). A team with so many great athletes should be making life more difficult for opposing offenses.

5. California: Charlie Moore is going to be a four-year pest — the kind of player of whom you look up and ask, “He’s still here?” You might even have those feelings by this season’s end despite the fact that he’s only a freshman. But this week was perhaps a staunch reminder that the 5’10” guard is, indeed, a pup. In fact, over Cal’s last three games (Virginia, Arizona, Arizona State) Moore is shooting 24 percent from the field. On the season, his offensive efficiency against KenPom top 50 and top 100 teams, respectively is a below-pedestrian 81.3.

6. Utah: Utah State transfer David Collette made the most of his Pac-12 debut against Colorado, scoring 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds. Utah cut down its turnovers and forced more than usual, leading to a +6 margin in points off takeaways. That could be a big factor as it heads to the desert to face a turnover-prone Arizona team on Thursday night. The Utes rank 20th nationally in eFG% at 56.2 percent, but their corresponding turnover rate of 21 percent ranks 282nd among offenses. That latter number improved against the Buffaloes and will continue to be worth tracking as Utah progresses through the league schedule.

7. Colorado: If Colorado is going to make some noise in March, Josh Fortune and George King need to get their acts together. The duo who were the Buffaloes’ most prolific three-point shooters last season are both shooting at least 10 percent worse from deep this season. Fortune’s issues (28.6% 3FG) are the most baffling. The senior is a much better scorer than he has shown so far this season.

8. Arizona State: At its current pace, Arizona State will have the worst defense in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils’ efficiency sits at a porous 105.9 points per 100 possessions, good for 238th nationally (and worse than even Washington). That would rate as the third-worst defense in modern Pac-12 history or, more specifically, third-worst since the 2012 season. Arizona State yielded 1.24 and 1.23 points per possession to Stanford and Cal, respectively, both team’s second-best offensive outputs of their seasons.

9. Washington State: Ernie Kent‘s team took advantage of a young Washington team in real disarray on Sunday night in Seattle. The Cougars have struggled at both ends of the court all season long, but in Seattle they were able to take advantage of a foul-prone (read: young and undisciplined) Huskies squad to generate a FT Rate of 36 percent and a +13 advantage in points from the line. Josh Hawkinson contributed 28 points and six rebounds in 38 turnover-free minutes. He and seven-footer Conor Clifford shot a combined 16-of-30 from the field and have helped the Cougars block 8.5 percent of opponents’ shots, a middling national total. If Kent can find some better perimeter defense and keep Clifford out of foul trouble, Washington State could evolve into a defensive team that stays in a bunch of games until the end.

Ernie Kent's Cougs Shocked Washington Last Weekend (USA Today Images)

Ernie Kent’s Cougs Shocked Washington Last Weekend (USA Today Images)

10. Stanford: After spending most of the non-conference season struggling mightily to score, the Cardinal flipped the script during the first weekend of conference play as its defense was completely torn to shreds. Stanford allowed 189 points over two games and now staggers out of Maples Pavilion to Los Angeles for the toughest road set on the league docket this season. Michael Humphrey continues to struggle with both his health and foul trouble. The junior’s Offensive Rating has fallen nearly 15 points this season (from 102.0 to 87.8), a drop-off Stanford simply cannot afford.

11. Washington: If all press is good press then kudos to Markelle Fultz for keeping a bad Washington team in the news! The Huskies, despite an incomprehensible home loss to Washington State, got a mention on the CBS Sports Eye on College Basketball Podcast! Nevertheless, with each game the Huskies lose (play?), the narrative around Fultz’s time in Seattle as a waste will grow.

12. Oregon State: The return of leading scorer Tres Tinkle is imminent and it will be interesting to see if the Beavers make drastic improvement once he is back. Classmate Stephen Thompson is also starting to wake up (49 points in two Pac-12 games) and if Tinkle can quickly round into playing form, the Beavers might not lose every conference game. After two non-competitive losses to start conference play, that is the best Oregon State can reasonably hope for.

mlemaire (324 Posts)

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