Pac-12 Final Regular Season Power RankingsPosted by Pac-12 Team on March 8th, 2017
The Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas tips off at Noon PT today and fans are already salivating about the possible semifinals on Friday night. That said, the handful of teams in the second tier — such as Utah — are also serious threats to make some noise in Sin City. Let’s jump into the final Power Rankings of the season.
1. UCLA — Don’t look now, but UCLA is allowing 0.96 points per possession over its last eight games. Considering how much attention has been paid to the Bruins’ defensive issues this season, consider this an encouraging trend. If they can continue to defend at a reasonable level, Steve Alford‘s team will be ridiculously tough to beat in the NCAA Tournament.
2. Oregon — This team is stupid good on both ends. The 16-2 Ducks finished the conference season as the only team among the top two in both offensive and defensive efficiency. With the toughest portion of their schedule — five of their last seven games were on the road — now behind them, their focus shifts to being the #1 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament.
3. Arizona — Arizona ended the season as the best team in the Pac-12 in both getting to the line (38% FT Rate) and converting while there (78%). The Wildcats’ top five usage players all shoot 72 percent or better from the charity stripe, making Sean Miller‘s squad a strong contender for postseason success. There’s really nobody to target here in a must-foul situation. Another thing Arizona does well is defend the three-pointer — in Pac-12 play, opponents shot a league-lowest 32 percent from beyond the arc.
4. Utah — By winning their final three games and five of their last seven, the Utes went from losing to Oregon State to a bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. Lorenzo Bonam has been a huge catalyst in their late-season surge, posting Offensive Efficiency ratings of 152.0, 135.0, and 165.0 in the final three games of the season. Experienced guard play is very important in March, and Utah’s senior guard is at his best at the right time.
5. California — Before the season began, we thought Ivan Rabb was a great talent who, despite limited support, projected as a first team All-American. As it turned out, Rabb managed just three field goal attempts against Utah with the season on the line in a 30-point loss.
6. USC — If USC doesn’t want to sweat out Selection Sunday, the Trojans need to beat UCLA in the Pac-12 quarterfinals. Unfortunately, the Bruins’ offensive firepower makes UCLA a bad matchup for USC’s shaky defense. The Trojans do not like to waste time (47th nationally in average offensive possession length), but they would be wise to slow it way down if they want to have a puncher’s chance against their crosstown rival.
7. Colorado — Flip the Buffaloes’ three worst losses (at Washington; at Washington State; at Arizona State) to wins and we are likely talking about a compelling bubble team instead of a a group bound for the NIT. Colorado has arguably been the fourth- or fifth-best team in the conference since the end of January, so it is something of a shame that they will need a magical run in the conference tournament to sniff a bid.
8. Stanford — Michael Humphrey‘s descent into maddening inconsistency is one of the biggest reasons the Cardinal’s roller coaster of a regular season ended on such a down note. Here are the junior big man’s last five games by Offensive Rating: 66.0,114.0, 165.0, 111.0, 62.0. Furthermore, his efficiency has declined in each of this three seasons on The Farm. Mr. Humphrey’s Wild Ride has shackled a talent-challenged Cardinal squad that simply couldn’t afford to have one of its most talented players be so volatile this season.
9. Arizona State — Head coach Bobby Hurley completed his first Arizona-Arizona State rivalry game without a technical foul on Saturday.
10. Washington — Lorenzo Romar‘s job security is reportedly intact as Washington wrapped up a forgettable regular season as a two-win conference team. Furthermore, in a league that featured only one spectacular offense, the Huskies posted a 107.9 defensive efficiency, the worst of Romar’s career by more than three points per 100 possessions.
11. Washington State — The Cougars hung tough with UCLA for the equivalent of about three quarters on Saturday but an offensive flurry down the stretch doomed Washington State’s chance at the major upset. Still, this team mightily overachieved this season. The primary reason the Cougars gave teams so much trouble was its balanced offensive attack — five players have usage rates of over 20 percent, with the highest Conor Clifford at 25.1 percent.
12. Oregon State — It’s okay to open your eyes now, Beaver fans. That regular season was truly brutal, but fortunately, Oregon State has nowhere to go but up. Wayne Tinkle‘s team will retain the entirety of its core next season, and with a healthy Tres Tinkle set to return, the Beavers will definitely tally more than one regular season win next season.