Posted on February 1, 2022
Four teams from the league are currently projected to make the Big Dance, with the possibility of a fifth gradually growing.
The Conference deserves the benefit of the doubt after last year’s run, when the sixth-place team made it to the Elite Eight, and nearly half the teams there hailed from the Pac-12.
But with just over six weeks remaining in the Regular Season, the time is right for an updated Power Ranking.
The list below is how I see the 12 teams as they currently sit at the start of February.
In a perfect world, the top six would receive At-Large bids with the seventh winning the Automatic Bid in Las Vegas.
1. UCLA (8-1, 16-2)
The Bruins re-established themselves as the top team in the Pac-12 with convincing wins over Arizona and Stanford.
The defeat a few weeks ago to Oregon appears more of an aberration than a cause for concern, as UCLA has turned up its defensive intensity.
A No. 1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament is back on the table, and the Conference’s Regular Season championship runs through Pauley Pavilion.
A win at McKale Center on Thursday night could end up being the difference in the final Pac-12 standings come March.
2. Arizona (7-1, 17-2)
Tommy Lloyd’s offense is in crisis mode. Dealing with injuries and an apparent loss of confidence, the Wildcats have failed to reach 80 points in three of their last six games.
Kerr Kriisa has a lingering thumb issue, Justin Kier is fighting through a wrist injury, and Azuolas Tubelis is toughing out a high-ankle sprain.
The result is a disrupted offensive flow, which snowballs into poor defensive effort. All it takes is one game to turn it around, but Arizona’s offense is a problem at the start of February.
3. USC (8-3, 18-3)
On a steady downslide, the Trojans dropped their second game to Stanford and struggled at times against California. But USC remains on track for a respectable seed in the NCAA Tournament.
No team in the Pac-12 has more road wins (6) than Andy Enfield’s squad, and the Trojans are 6-2 in Quad 1 and 2 matchups.
The lone blemish on their resume is the Quad 3 loss at home to the Cardinal last week. Yet, putting aside the solid resume, the eye test says something is not quite right in L.A.
4. Oregon (6-3, 13-7)
Dana Altman and the Ducks had a roller-coaster seven-day stretch.
After embarrassing Washington at Matthew Knight Arena, Oregon turned around and blew a lead to Colorado, only to destroy Oregon State a few days later.
The defeat to Colorado can arguably be overlooked come Selection Sunday, with UO’s two Quad 1 wins tied for third-most in the Pac-12.
Still, the jury remains out on Oregon’s invitation to the Big Dance as Altman’s team has road swings to the Mountain, Desert, and Pacific Northwest schools left on their schedule.
5. Stanford (5-4, 12-7)
Leading the Pac-12 with four Quad 1 wins, the Tree still have work to do. Currently on the outside of the bubble, Stanford is 89th in the NET with an ugly Quad 3 loss at Washington standing in the way.
But Jerod Haase’s team is trending up with just over six weeks left in the season.
Harrison Ingram has the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year locked up, and the Tree have just two road swings left along with a game at California to close the month.
6. Washington State (5-3, 12-7)
The Cougs have the NET rankings figured out.
Despite a 1-4 record in Quad 1 and 2 games, Washington State is 37th in the NCAA’s primary tool for evaluating resumes on Selection Sunday.
In position to sneak into the Big Dance with a strong finish to the year, Andrej Jakimovski is arguably the catalyst to WSU’s slow and steady rise.
The sophomore is averaging 15 points per game over his last three, knocking down 11 of his 23 attempts from three.
7. Washington (6-3, 11-8)
Inconsistency questions abound in Seattle, but the Huskies are shattering the expectations set for them just a month ago.
Sitting at 6-3 in the Pac-12, UW would be the 5-Seed if the Conference Tournament was held today.
The turnaround can be pinpointed to the matchup against Arizona on January 3rd, where the Dawgs battled UA close until five minutes to go in the game.
Since then, Washington has won six of its last eight and might be on track to be the Pac-12’s Cinderella in March.
8. Colorado (5-6, 13-8)
The youth and inexperience on Colorado’s roster have reared their heads over the past month. The Buffs have lost five of their last seven, dropping to eighth place in the Conference standings.
The absence of Tristan da Silva hurt during the Washington road swing, while the unavailability of Eli Parquet arguably cost CU games against the L.A. schools in Boulder.
There’s still time left to right the ship, but the 2021-22 season is beginning to appear like a formal rebuild for Colorado.
9. California (2-8, 9-12)
Expectations are raised in Berkeley, as California has already matched or exceeded its season win total from the 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2020-21 campaigns.
The back-to-back eight-win seasons from three and four years ago have given rise to a program with rebuilt momentum and a revamped roster.
The seven-game losing streak has damaged the optimism and the injury to Andre Kelly is worrying, but Cal has the pieces in place to secure a few more Pac-12 wins this year.
10. Arizona State (2-6, 6-12)
Bobby Hurley secured a moral victory on the road in Tucson last week, potentially setting up an upset of Arizona on Monday.
Arizona State’s front-court battled UA’s bigs, and its backcourt held Tommy Lloyd’s offense in check all game.
The Sun Devils have tough road swings to the State of Washington and the Mountain schools left, but have matchups at home against Oregon State and California that should result in victories.
11. Utah (1-11, 8-14)
The Utes aren’t that far off. Four of their Conference losses in January came by two possessions or less, while six of their 10 games were played away from Salt Lake City.
True freshman Lazar Stefanovic is averaging 14.5 points per game over his last four, and Branden Carlson is back on the floor after missing six games during the past month.
With the NCAA Tournament well out of reach, Utah could still achieve a win in the Pac-12 Tournament for the second-straight year.
12. Oregon State (1-7, 3-15)
The dramatic downfall of the Beavers in the 2021-22 season has been one of the biggest surprises in the Pac-12 this year.
Oregon State enters February with a 3-15 record and 1-7 mark in Conference play, despite being picked to finish fourth at the start of the season.
Jarod Lucas remains a night-and-day shooter, going through stretches where he can’t miss and other periods when nothing goes in.
The junior is currently on a cold streak, going 12-of-33 from the field over the last three games.
—More from Dane Miller—
- 2022 Pac-12 Football Preview: New Faces Key UCLA’s Hopes
- 2022 Pac-12 Football Preview: ASU Fighting Adversity
- 2022 Pac-12 Football Preview: Wildcats Clawing Back
- 2022 Pac-12 Football Previews: Utes Reloading on Defense
- Dane’s Miller’s Top Returning Men’s Hoops Freshmen
- 2022 Pac-12 Football Previews: QB Play Key for Colorado
- Miller: All’s Fair in College Football’s New Free Market
- Dane Miller’s Post-Spring Pac-12 Football Power Rankings
- Miller: Pac-12 Hoops Attendance a Measure of Success
- Dane Miller’s WSU-Texas A&M Semifinal NIT Preview
- Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Sweet 16 NCAA Preview
- Dane Miller’s Washington State Quarterfinal NIT Preview
- Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Second-Round NCAA Previews
- Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Second-Round NIT Previews
- Dane Miller’s First-Round Pac-12 NCAA Previews
- Dane Miller’s First-Round Pac-12 NIT Previews
- Dane Miller’s Pac-12 Tournament Championship Preview
- Dane Miller’s Semifinal Men’s Hoops Tourney Previews
- Dane Miller’s Round 2 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Tourney Preview
- Dane Miller’s Round 1 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Tourney Preview
- Dane Miller’s March 5 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews
- Dane Miller’s March 3 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Preview
- Dane Miller’s March 1 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Preview
- Dane Miller’s Feb 26 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews
- Dane Miller’s Feb 24 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews
- Dane Miller’s Feb 23 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Preview
- Dane Miller’s Feb 19-20 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews
- Dane Miller’s Feb 17 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews
- Dane Miller’s Feb 15 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Preview
- Dane Miller’s Feb 12 Pac-12 Men’s Hoops Previews
2022 Pac-12 Football Preview: New Faces Key UCLA’s HopesBruins return a starting QB and RB from a team that posted the program’s most wins since 2015 - July 4, 2022
2022 Pac-12 Football Preview: ASU Fighting AdversityEighteen players have transferred out, including key contributors on both sides of the ball - June 27, 2022
2022 Pac-12 Football Preview: Wildcats Clawing BackUA Recruiting has hit heights arguably unmatched during any other coach’s tenure in Tucson - June 20, 2022