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January 29, 2007 at 12:12 PM

Ranking the Pac

The Pac-10 Conference season hit the halfway point Sunday night when Stanford rallied to beat UCLA, a game that only further tightened the race for the title.
And made our weekly rankings that much tougher.
But here goes anyway:
1, UCLA — Despite the Sunday stumble, still the favorite. But that game revealed some possible fissures — UCLA was outrebounded 40-28 and also was exploited by Stanford’s smaller lineup in the second half.
2, Oregon — Oregon’s showing some amazing resiliency and Aaron Brooks continues to look like the favorite for Player of the Year. Ducks get a chance to state a case for No. 1 with Thursday night showdown at Pauley against the Bruins.
3, Stanford — The most improved team in the conference from the start of the season (Washington State has been good all along). The Cardinal now looks nothing like the team that lost at home by 34 to Air Force. Has a chance to help the Pac-10 with Wednesday home game against Gonzaga. After that, however, it’s five of seven on the road.
4, Washington State — Cougs lost their first home game and also lost a key player as reserve swingman Nikola Koprivica is out for the year with a knee injury suffered against Oregon. Like Stanford, Cougars have five of next seven conference games on the road.
5, USC — Trojans got big road win Saturday at Cal to stay in the thick of the conference race. Interestingly, Trojans rank last in the Pac-10 in assists and are losing more turnovers than any other conference team. USC is also last in three-pointers made. But USC makes up for it by ranking first in field goal percentage defense.
6, Arizona — Giving just five players the bulk of the time seems to have caught up with the Wildcats, who appear to have hit a wall. Goods news is Marcus Williams will apparently be back for this weekend’s games against WSU and UW. Wildcats need a sweep to stay in the race, and even just one loss will begin to make their NCAA Tourney hopes a little precarious as Wildcats finish with five of seven on the road.
7, Washington — Huskies finally showed some signs over the weekend of being the team everyone expected to see all year. If Spencer Hawes returns to full health, UW may still be able to make a tournament run. But first, Huskies have to show they can win a road game.
8, Cal — Hard to explain the Bears who are 3-2 in conference road games and 1-3 at home, beating only the Huskies. Injuries appear to be taking their toll.
9, Oregon State — What’s the deal with OSU’s free throw shooting? Beavers were an astounding 18-51 from the line on the Washington trip.
10, Arizona State — Starting to be worth wondering whether ASU will be able to win a conference game. No Pac-10 team has ever gone 0-18.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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