Pac-12 Power Rankings: The Big Three and Everyone Else Edition

Posted by RJ Abeytia on March 1st, 2017

As we launch ourselves into March and the final weekend of Pac-12 play of the regular season, here are the final Power Rankings.

Thomas Welsh Wants Everyone to Recognize Where UCLA Stands (USA Today Images)

  1. UCLA– Nobody in the upper three did as much as the Bruins last weekend. Note that Arizona — which doesn’t really lose at the McKale Center, remember — was the first team in the past four games to post an offensive efficiency above the national average against UCLA’s improving defense.
  2. Oregon– The Ducks stood tough in the Bay Area last weekend thanks in large part to the second-best Pac-12 defense. Oregon plays aggressively (forcing a 20 percent turnover rate) yet cleanly with the second lowest FTA allowed rate in the conference.
  3. Arizona– Arizona, despite a tough home loss to the Bruins, continues to make its case as the most NCAA Tournament-ready team in the league. Why? First, the Wildcats play at the third-slowest pace in the Pac-12, and games always slow in postseason play. Secondly, Arizona does the best job in the conference in both getting to the foul line (37.4% FTA Rate) and making free throws when they get there (78%).
  4. California– We can’t tell you if Cal will make the NCAA Tournament but the Bears would be one tough match-up if they get there. Only once in the last five years has a double-digit seed sported a top-10 defense.
  5. Utah– The Utes continue to live that Bubble Life, sitting at #54 in KenPom and #49 in Sagarin but nowhere near cracking Joe Lunardi’s field of 64, 68, or even his last eight. Curiously, the teams sandwiching the Utes in the Pac-12 standings, USC and Cal, are both in, per Lunardi. Somewhat fortuitously, Cal visits the Huntsman Center this week…
  6. USC– Losing to Arizona was understandable but dropping a second game in the desert did not do any favors to the Trojans’ NCAA Tournament resume. USC is clearly a better team than the sum of its parts. The Trojans are below average in both offensive and defensive efficiency but are still an NCAA Tournament team, per Lunardi.
  7. Arizona StateEarlier this week, Stephen Curry tied an NBA record by shooting 0-of-11 from three in a single game. He’s universally considered a good three-point shooter, which is why that degree of ineptitude is so surprising. Now let’s consider Torian Graham — the Sun Devils’ sharpshooter has contributed two performances this season where he shot shot 0-of-7 and 0-of-9 from distance.
  8. Colorado– Nearly 36 percent of opponents’ points against the Buffaloes have come from behind the three-point line this season, the second highest in the league. After winning six of seven games on the heels of a seven-game losing streak to open conference play, Colorado appears to be on the NIT bubble with the Bay Area schools rolling into the Rockies.
  9. Stanford– The Cardinal once again took one of the league’s elite to the wire only to once again fail to seal the deal with an upset. Don’t make plans when Stanford plays. It generates the second-most free throws in the league and allows opponents the highest free throw rate in the Pac-12, a staggering 42 percent.
  10. Washington State– Give credit to the Cougars for playing out the string in earning back-to-back wins.  They are the conference’s weakest offensive rebounding team and generate the fewest free throws per shot attempt for good measure.
  11. WashingtonAs the Fultz, Ball and other draft picks debate heats up, I’m curious how much Washington’s lack of success will impact the general impression of Fultz. He’s played a limited role lately because of injury but has clearly demonstrated he’s a fantastic talent.
  12. Oregon State– Spring football is underway in Corvallis and head coach Wayne Tinkle’s team is not going winless in Pac-12 play. Better to just leave it at that and move on.
Richard Abeytia (41 Posts)

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