Pac-12 Weekly Power Rankings: Vol. 3Posted by Pac-12 Team on January 18th, 2017
The Pac-12 last season boasted the toughest road game in college basketball. During conference play, the league’s home teams won at a higher rate (71%) than any other conference in America. This season, Pac-12 home teams are winning at just a 59 percent rate. They say that conference titles are won on the road. How has your team fared in hostile territory?
- Oregon (1) – The Ducks’ conference dominance continues. Since their dramatic, two-point victory over UCLA in the Pac-12 opener, Oregon has simply decimated their opponents. Oregon’s average margin of victory over the last four games is 26.5 points, a full 15 points higher than UCLA. Granted, the four teams the Ducks have played also have a combined 6-15 conference record, but at least they are taking care of business.
- UCLA (2) – How do we convince Thomas Welsh to get to the free throw line more often? That is the question that head coach Steve Alford should be asking himself. After shooting 75 percent from the charity stripe last season, the junior has yet to miss in his 24 attempts this year (leading to a subtle breakout season for the junior). Now if he could just average more than one freebie attempt every two games…
- Arizona (3) – Arizona remains one of the best defensive teams in the country after beating Arizona State in a light work week. One thing to monitor: The Wildcats remain one of the more reluctant three-point shooting teams in the nation. Only 25 percent of their points come on threes, second fewest in the Pac-12. This is despite shooting a stellar 45 percent from distance in league play, second-highest in the Pac-12.
- California (5) – Veterans Sam Singer and Jabari Bird are having effective but uninspiring senior seasons. Bird’s offensive efficiency is down 11 percent and Singer – never a major threat – maintains a sub-100 offensive efficiency. Enter Grant Mullins. The Columbia graduate transfer’s minutes have surged in Pac-12 play (greater than 32.0 MPG) with a fifth-in-conference 124.0 Offensive Rating on 42 percent three-point shooting.
- Utah (4) – The Utes were a bucket (or should we say a couple free throws) away from getting a monster boost to its NCAA Tournament hopes over the weekend. Utah is a very good shooting team (58.4% eFG), but an inability to manufacture points at the foul line could continue to hurt its prospects. On its home floor against UCLA, the Utes took just six free throws against 66 field goal attempts (11%). On the season, their rate is a measly 19 percent, lowest in the conference.
- USC (6) – De’Anthony Melton might already be the best defender in the Pac-12. He is the Trojans’ primary substitute at three positions and ranks among the top 10 in the conference in both block and steal percentage. His athleticism makes him a nightmare for opposing guards and his ability to capably handle larger forwards is an understated luxury for head coach Andy Enfield.
- Stanford (11) – Few would guess that Stanford plays at the fastest tempo in the conference, but at 73.5 PPG for the season, that’s the story. Whether it benefits Stanford’s 10th-rated offense or seventh-rated defense more is up for debate. What’s not arguable is that the Cardinal played cleaner in its home sweep of the Washington schools, allowing only a 26 percent FT/FGA rate after sitting at well over 50 percent over the first two weeks of league play.
- Arizona State (8) – The Sun Devils didn’t go to Tucson and get a win. They did, however, make 10 three pointers in that game. Why is that significant? It all came in the second half! Arizona has yielded 10 or more three pointers in a game only 11 times since 2014.
- Washington State (7) – After starting conference play 2-0, the Cougars have since returned to earth. They’ve now lost three straight, including a 30-point blowout loss to Stanford for the Cardinal’s first Pac-12 victory. One detail really hurting Wazzu right now is its profound inability to get to the free throw line. They’re shooting the best percentage in the conference (78.5% FT) but are dead last in free throws attempted.
- Colorado (9) – Colorado can take little solace in its performance thus far but Xavier Johnson has been a lone bright spot. The senior is averaging better than 16 points per game and is shooting better than 50 percent from downtown in Pac-12 play. If Colorado ultimately goes down in flames this season, it is at least nice to see Johnson enjoying a fitting send-off to a long career.
- Washington (10) – Because all eyes are on Markelle Fultz (as a blurb lead and defensively), David Crisp is having a lovely little season. The sophomore has improved his three-point shooting from 30 percent as a freshman to a stellar 45 percent this year (107th nationally). Do not underestimate the power of the dribble-drive.
- Oregon State (12) – If it wasn’t already clear, Wayne Tinkle’s bunch is in for a very long year. The Beavers have yet to score 70 points in a conference game, averaging just 58.4 points per game over their last five. They are also coming off an embarrassing 85-43 loss to Oregon where they posted more turnovers (21) than field goals (16).