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Pac-12 power ratings: Key storylines for what should be a riveting final week

UPDATED: Mon., March 1, 2021

By Jon Wilner Bay Area News Group

The final week of the Pac-12 regular season brings equal parts intrigue and confusion.

Some teams have three games left to play; others have none.

Four teams have locked up opening-round byes in the conference tournament; three more are in a scrum for the No. 5 seed.

Four teams seemingly have secured NCAA Tournament bids; six others are in desperation mode.

It’s enough to need a reset button before this last stretch of games begins in a few hours.

We’re here to help.

The schedule breakdown:

Two teams – the teams at the bottom of the standings, Cal and Washington – have played their full allotment of 20 conference games and are sitting this week out.

A third team, Arizona, finished Monday night, for good.

The Wildcats are ineligible for the Pac-12 Tournament and the NCAAs. When they walked off the court Monday night in Eugene, their season was over.

Meanwhile, Arizona State has only played 15 conference games; Oregon just 16. Both were scheduled for three games this week.

The seeds for Las Vegas:

Because only 11 teams are participating in the Pac-12 Tournament, the format has been adjusted: The top five seeds, instead of the usual four, will have opening-round byes.

Four of those slots are locked up: UCLA, USC, Oregon and Colorado (although the order must be resolved).

Three teams are contending for the final bye: Stanford (10-9), Oregon State (9-9) and Arizona State (7-8).

Utah, Cal and the Washington schools are locked into playing in the opening round next Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.

The order of seeds will be determined by winning percentage, to account for the disparity in games played.

Outlook for the NCAAs:

The same four teams that have secured opening-round byes in Las Vegas (UCLA, USC, Colorado and Oregon) are in relatively secure position for Selection Sunday.

Beyond that quartet, only Stanford has a chance for inclusion in the at-large field.

(It’s getting dicey, however: The Cardinal has lost three in a row and visits USC Wednesday night.)

As a result, the Pac-12 could send as few as four teams to the NCAAs – if Stanford lands on the wrong side of the bubble and one of the top four received the conference’s automatic berth.

Or it could send as many as six teams, if Stanford sneaks into the at-large field and one of the bottom five teams wins the title in Las Vegas and collects the automatic bid.

The situation is muddled at every level; we expected nothing less.

To the power ratings!

(NET rankings through Sunday)

1. UCLA (17-6/13-4)

Last week: 2

Results: Won at Utah 76-61, lost at Colorado 70-61

NET ranking: 38

Next up: at Oregon (Wednesday)

Comment: The Bruins scored four points in the final seven minutes against Colorado’s locked-in defense, a harbinger of their primary challenge in the NCAAs: Without Chris Smith, who creates the offense under pressure?

2. Oregon (16-5/11-4)

Last week: 3

Results: Lost at USC 72-58, won at Stanford 71-68 and Cal 74-63, vs. Arizona Monday night

NET ranking: 44

Next up: vs. UCLA (Wednesnday)

Comment: It has all set up perfectly for the Ducks, who are finally healthy (mostly healthy) and will collect the No. 1 seed with three wins this week.

3. Colorado (19-7/13-6)

Last week: 4

Results: Beat USC 80-62 and UCLA 70-61

NET ranking: 13

Next up: vs. ASU (Thursday)

Comment: We’ll see how things unfold this week in Boulder and Los Angeles. But McKinley Wright is not out of the Pac-12 Player of the Year conversation.

4. USC (19-6/13-5)

Last week: 1

Results: Beat Oregon 72-58, lost at Colorado 80-62 and Utah 71-61

NET ranking: 25

Next up: vs. Stanford (Wednesday)

Comment: Seems obvious to us (and with all due respect to Evan Mobley): As Tahj Eaddy goes, so go the Trojans.

5. Arizona (17-8/11-8)

Last week: 5

Results: Beat WSU 69-53 and Washington 75-74, at Oregon Monday night

NET ranking: 39

Next up: None

Comment: Was Monday night merely the end of the season, or the end of an era?

6. Oregon State (13-11/9-9)

Last week: 8

Results: Won at Cal 59-57 and Stanford 73-62

NET ranking: 108

Next up: at Utah (Wednesday)

Comment: First Bay Area sweep since 2009 for the Beavers. More important, the wins vault them into contention for an opening- round bye in Las Vegas.

7. Arizona State (10-11/7-8)

Last week: 10

Results: Beat Washington 97-64 and 80-72, beat WSU 77-74

NET ranking: 105

Next up: vs. Washington State (TBD)

Comment: A trio of home wins over the Washington schools isn’t enough to turn ASU into the team nobody wants to play. But if the Sun Devils win in Boulder on Thursday, then we’re down with it.

8. Utah (10-11/7-10)

Last week: 9

Results: Lost to UCLA 76-61, beat USC 71-61

NET ranking: 93

Next up: vs. Oregon State (Wednesday)

Comment: For the umpteenth time this season, one weekend result turns the other into a head- scratcher. Which is which is up for debate.

9. Stanford (14-11/10-9)

Last week: 6

Results: Lost to Oregon 71-68 and Oregon State 73-62

NET ranking: 64

Next up: at USC (Wednesday)

Comment: The bubble-sitting Cardinal is playing the most dangerous game of all: Giving the selection committee ample reason to leave it out.

10. Washington State (14-12/7-12)

Last week: 7

Results: Lost at Arizona 69-53 and at ASU 77-74

NET ranking: 101

Next up: at ASU (TBD)

Comment: If it’s possible to have an impressive, expectation-busting season and still finish multiple games under .500, the Cougars have done it.

11. Washington (5-20/4-16)

Last week: 11

Results: Lost at ASU 97-64 and 80-72, lost at Arizona 75-74

NET ranking: 199

Next up: Regular season over.

Comment: Worst conference record for the Huskies since way back in 2017.

12. Cal (8-19/3-17)

Last week: 12

Results: Lost to Oregon State 59-57 and Oregon 74-63

NET ranking: 188

Next up: Regular season over.

Comment: Conference record the past four seasons: 2-16, 3-15, 7-11 and 3-17. That’s either the Bears’ worst stretch in 40 years or their worst in 75.

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