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Sports >  NCAA basketball

Pac-12 power ratings: USC takes over the top spot as Utah rises and Arizona slides

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 9, 2021

By Jon Wilner Bay Area News Group

There’s a tie atop the Pac-12 standings, and the team in third place has more losses than the team in fourth.

Some have played 13 conference games; others have played eight.

It’s a mess, in other words, and there are only four weeks left in the regular season – not enough time to fully make up the disparity in games played.

With that in mind, here’s a quick primer on the Pac-12 tournament tiebreaker formula, taken directly from the conference:

Tournament seeds

The won-lost percentage record of the teams in regular-season conference play will determine tournament seedings

Two-team ties

a. Results of head-to-head competition during the regular season.

b. Each team’s record (won-lost percentage) vs. the team occupying the highest position in the final regular standings, and then continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.

When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s record (won-lost percentage) against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tiebreaking procedure), rather than the performance against individual tied teams.

Three-team (or more) ties

a. Results (won-lost percentage) of collective head-to-head competition during the regular season among the tied teams.

b. If more than two teams are still tied, each of the tied team’s record (won-lost percentage) vs. the team occupying the highest position in the final regular-season standings, and then continuing down through the standings, eliminating teams with inferior records, until one team gains an advantage.

When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s record (won-lost percentage) against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tiebreaking procedure), rather than the performance against individual tied teams.

After one team has an advantage and is seeded, all remaining teams in the multiple-team tiebreaker will repeat the multiple-team tiebreaking procedure. If at any point the multiple-team tie is reduced to two teams, the two-team tiebreaking procedure will be applied.

Key takeaway:

It’s not like the football tiebreaker, in which teams with the same number of losses and a one-game difference in wins were considered tied. The basketball formula is based on winning percentage and winning percentage only.

So if USC finishes 15-3 with UCLA next at 14-3, the Trojans would claim the No. 1 seed (even if they split the head-to-head).

If Stanford lands on 11-7 and Oregon ends up 9-6, the Cardinal would have the edge: Its winning percentage (61.1) would be a tick higher than Oregon’s (60).

File that away, for the standings are sure to get cluttered and confusing in the final fortnight.

To the power ratings …

1. USC (15-3/9-2)

Last week: 2

Results: won at Stanford 72-66, beat UCLA 66-48

Next up: at Washington (Thursday)

Comment: After hammering their rival and claiming a share of first place, the Trojans would be staring at a trap game Thursday had they drawn any other opponent. But the Huskies don’t have the wherewithal to produce an upset.

2. UCLA (13-4/9-2)

Last week: 1

Results: lost at USC 66-48

Next up: at WSU

Comment: Downward move a result of the loss itself and the depleted state of the roster: No Cody Riley and no Jalen Hill leaves a vulnerable lineup.

3. Colorado (14-5/8-4)

Last week: 3

Results: DNP vs. ASU, beat Arizona 82-79

Next up: DNP at Oregon State, at Stanford (Thursday)

Comment: The grit Evan Battey showed by staying in the game for free throws following the ankle injury perfectly encapsulated CU’s desperate position as another big lead nearly slipped away.

4. Stanford (12-7/8-5)

Last week: 4

Results: lost to USC 72-66, won at Cal 70-55, beat Cal 76-70

Next up: vs Colorado (Thursday)

Comment: One of several signs of improvement: no bad losses.

5. Oregon (10-4/5-3)

Last week: 6

Results: lost to WSU 74-71, beat Washington 86-74

Next up: at Arizona State (Thursday)

Comment: Combine the rust with the injuries, and the Ducks weren’t quite equipped to handle WSU. But the pendulum swings this week as Oregon faces an opponent coming off a COVID pause.

6. Utah (8-7/5-6)

Last week: 7

Results: DNP vs. ASU, beat Arizona 73-58

Next up: at Cal (Thursday)

Comment: Good enough to beat Stanford, Colorado and Arizona; bad enough to lose to Cal and Washington.

7. Arizona (13-6/7-6)

Last week: 5

Results: lost at Utah 73-58 and Colorado 82-79

Next up: vs. Oregon State (Thursday)

Comment: We are tracking the Wildcats’ NET ranking (44th): Given their postseason ban, any February fade could undercut their position and impact Pac-12 resumes on Selection Sunday.

8. Oregon State (10-7/6-5)

Last week: 9

Results: beat Washington 91-71 and WSU 68-66

Next up: DNP vs. Colorado, at Arizona (Thursday)

Comment: Somehow, the Beavers have won five out of seven. (No sarcasm intended: We’ve watched and have no idea how this is happening.)

9. Washington State (11-8/4-8)

Last week: 10

Results: won at Oregon 74-71, lost at OSU 68-66

Next up: vs. UCLA (Thursday)

Comment: In his second season with the Cougars, Kyle Smith is 7-1 against Washington and the Oregon schools. That will be 8-1 after the Huskies visit at the end of the season.

10. Arizona State (6-8/3-5)

Last week: 8

Results: DNP at Colorado, DNP at Utah

Next up: vs. Oregon (Thursday)

Comment: Signs of significant COVID disruption: When you’ve played the same number of conference games as Oregon.

11. Washington (3-14/2-10)

Last week: 11

Results: lost at OSU 91-71 and Oregon 86-74

Next up: vs USC (Thursday)

Comment: UW finishes with four in a row at home (L.A. and Bay Area teams) and three in a row on the road (Arizonas and WSU). Best-case scenario is 2-5.

12. Cal (7-14/2-12)

Last week: 12

Results: lost to Stanford 70-55 and at Stanford 76-70

Next up: vs Utah (Thursday)

Comment: Even at 2-12, the Bears aren’t underachieving. They just don’t have the talent to compete regularly.

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