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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

February 25, 2008 at 10:46 AM

Ranking the Pac

It was the revenge of the home teams this week in the Pac-10, host squads going 7-2 after entering the week with a losing record — 31-32 — in conference play.
Obviously, one of those two losses came here in Seattle (the other in Pullman). And maybe more than home teams doing well was simply who was at home — UCLA, USC, Stanford — and who was on the road — Oregon. Oregon State, Cal.
But the return of normalcy also meant little real movement in the standings, despite a lot of talk heading into the weekend of all kinds of potential upheaval.
It also meant that post-season ambitions began to crystalize.
UCLA and Stanford are for sure in, and WSU and USC need only avoid a collapse the rest of the way. Arizona and Arizona State still have some work to do, but both helped their status this week, particularly the Wildcats, whose non-conference resume will help greatly.
The bottom four teams — Cal, Oregon, UW and Oregon State — look done.
On to the rankings:
1, UCLA — With just two losses, if Bruins win out, could have best conference record since Stanford went 17-1 in 2004. Last 10 minutes against Oregon showed that when they put the hammer down, they are pretty tough to beat.
2, Stanford — Survived a gritty comeback by Cal. Looking for wins this week against the Washington schools to set up a showdown at UCLA on March 6.
3, USC — Probably should have a better record if you look at the stats —- Trojans lead the Pac-10 in field goal percentage offense in conference games at 49.5 percent and are second in FG percentage defense at 39.4. Depth remains an issue, but took huge step toward NCAAs with wins over the Oregon schools.
4, Arizona — Just when you thought these guys were toast they basically just out-worked the Cougars in Pullman to stay on track for the NCAAs. Won’t be easy with home games this week against USC and UCLA and road games at Oregon and Oregon State, but I’m betting a split will be good enough and will make Arizona first Pac-10 team with 9-9 conference record to get in.
5, Washington State — Just 2-5 against the four teams listed above, both wins coming against USC (and neither when the Trojans were really at full strength). Just fifth in shooting in conference games and eighth in shooting defense.
6, Arizona State — RPI is only at 70, seventh in the Pac-10, which won’t help the NCAA at-large bid. But getting James Harden back on track will. And ASU appears to have found a keeper in Rihards Kuksiks.
7, Cal — NCAA hopes probably vanished with the loss to Stanford unless the Bears can sweep (and they end the year at USC and UCLA, so realistsically not going to happen). Shooting 77.8 percent on free throws (and 79.9 percent in conference games) one of the best marks in Pac-10 history (record is 78.6 by Arizona in 03-04 season).
8, Washington — Putting Huskies ahead of Oregon for the moment simply because they had a little bit better weekend, with the win over Arizona showing what this team is capable of when it’s all working right. But the loss to ASU was a crusher and now we’ll see how strong the team is mentally facing the final three on the road.
9, Oregon — Hard to believe Ernie Kent could be in trouble a year removed from Elite Eight. But rumblings are increasing with the Ducks’ collapse, which is likley to keep them out of the NCAA Tournament barring a miracle finish.
10, Oregon State — Marcel Jones promised this week that the Beavers will win at least one game this season. Course, the Beavers haven’t been too good at following through on strong talk this season. One reason for hope? Remaining three games are at home — Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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