No. 12 (Last week: 11) Utah (Record: 1-2, RPI: 342)
Recent result: Lost 70-64 to Montana State
Inactivity drops Utah to the bottom of the rankings. The Utes only win is a three-point victory at home against NAIA San Diego Christian College. Utah is a 15 1/2 point underdog today to Harvard (3-0). Senior guard Josh Watkins (right) has led Utah in scoring in every game, averaging 21.3 points, which ranks second in the Pac-12. No one else on the team is averaging more than nine points. Watkins also leads the Utes in assists at 4.7 per game. Junior center Jason Washburn is Utah’s top rebounder at 8.3 boards, ranking third in the conference.
Up next: Thursday vs Harvard at Nassau, Bahamas
Photo credit: AP Photo – Joe Jaszewski
11 (12) UCLA (1-4, 274)
Recent results: Lost 79-63 to No. 15 Michigan, Lost 72-56 to No. 14 Kansas, Beat Chaminade 92-60
Worst start since 1987. All four losses have been by double digits. UCLA’s only win is against Division II Chaminade. The Reeves Nelson fiasco and Joshua Smith’s conditioning issues depleted the Bruins front line, which was supposed to be the strength of the team. Jerime Anderson has been solid early on, while Tyler Lamb was abused defensively by Michigan’s Tim Hardaway Jr. who scored 20 points.
Up next: Monday vs. Pepperdine
10. (9) Arizona State (1-2, 338)
Recent results: Lost 76-71 to New Mexico
Looks like the Sun Devils will soon learn the fate of prized freshman point guard Jahii Carson. He recently retook the ACT and the results should soon be posted and sent to the NCAA Clearinghouse. If he’s ruled eligible, then he’ll join the team. If not, he can remain with ASU and begin playing next season. Difficult to believe ASU has fallen so far two years after playing in the second of the NCAA tournament.
Up next: Thursday vs Fairfield at Orlando
9. (8) USC (2-3, 288)
Recent results: Beat Morgan State 65-62, Lost 42-36 to Cal Poly, Lost 56-54 at San Diego State
Maurice Jones and Aaron Fuller account for 52 percent of USC’s points, 56 percent of the free throw attempts, 39 percent of the assists and three-point attempts and 35 percent of the rebounds. Relying so heavily on two players isn’t sustainable over the course of a 30-game season. The Trojans need to find more contributions, however they have few viable options. USC won’t win any shootouts – the Trojans average a conference-low 56.4 ppg. – which is why coach Kevin O’Neill wants to make every game a wrestling match. Still 36 points against Cal Poly is embarrassing.
Up next: Friday vs. UNLV at New Orleans
Photo credit: AP Photo – Mark Reis
8. (10) Colorado (3-2, 186)
Recent result: Won 76-73 OT at Air Force, Beat Western Michigan 81-76, Lost 78-71 to Maryland, Lost 67-58 to Wichita State
While other Pac-12 teams build its national reputation in preseason tournaments, Colorado is staying close to home. The Buffaloes won’t leave the state in the non-conference season. The first time they cross the state border is a mid-January road trip to the California Bay Area. Andre Roberson (above, left) is the only player in the Pac-12 averaging a double double. He’s averaging 10.2 points and 11.0 rebounds. The sophomore guard is an amazing rebounder at 6 feet 7. Senior guard Carlon Brown (above, right) leads CU with 16.2 ppg.
Up next: Monday vs. Georgia
7. (4) No. 23 Arizona (4-2, 39)
Recent results: Lost 61-57 to San Diego State, Lost 67-57 to Mississippi State
Coach Sean Miller hinted Arizona was overrated weeks ago and the Wildcats two-game losing streak will knock them out of the rankings. Perhaps the early struggles are a good thing and maybe changes are in order. Freshman point guard Josiah Turner, who was picked to be a NBA lottery pick next summer, has had a slow start. Still it may be time for him to start as well as freshman shooting guard Nick Johnson. Miller gives the impression freshman forward Sidiki Johnson may be dismissed from the team.
Up next: Tuesday at New Mexico State
6. (6) Washington State (2-1, 10)
Recent result: Beat Sacramento State 79-68, Won 83-73 at Portland
Senior Charlie Enquist has filled in nicely for senior forward Abe Lodwick (broken foot), who is out 4-6 weeks. WSU has received a big lift from backup point guard DaVonte Lacy. The 6 foot 3 freshman from University Park’s Curtis High has scored in double digits in every game this season while averaging 3.3 assists per game. He’s averaging 21.7 minutes per game as understudy to junior Reggie Moore, who leads the Pac-12 with 5.7 assists per game. The Cougars backcourt, which also features high-scoring Faisal Aden, defensive stalwart Marcus Capers and super sub Mike Ladd, rivals any in the Pac-12.
Up next: Thursday vs. Oklahoma in Anaheim, Calif.
5. (2) Washington (3-1, 50)
Recent results: Lost 77-64 at Saint Louis
Sunday’s smackdown in St. Louis might have been a wake-up call for the Huskies, which has one final tuneup before entering the toughest part of their schedule – a three-game road stint that begins with a Dec. 2 trip to Nevada followed by a week in New York with games against No. 16 Marquette and No. 6 Duke at Madison Square Garden. More pressure is building on co-captains Abdul Gaddy and Darnell Gant to take control of the team. If they falter, it’s difficult to identify others who can provide leadership.
Up next: Friday vs. Houston Baptist
4. (5) Oregon (3-1, 31)
Recent result: Won 83-76 at Nebraska, Beat Southeast Missouri State 86-61, Beat Eastern Washington 73-65
The turmoil in Eugene, Ore. hasn’t affected the Ducks who are on a three-game winning streak. Prized freshman Jabari Brown quit the team after two games and Tony Woods and Bruce Barron were injured Sunday and limited in Wednesday’s win at Nebraska. Coach Dana Altman is leaving the door open for Brown, but he’s also filling the vacancy on the roster with Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph. The 6-4 senior guard has a year of eligibility remaining. He averaged 11.3 points, 3.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds as a junior. Altman put a lot of faith in Garrett Sim and the senior point guard has responded. He’s averaging 17 points during the win streak.
Up next: Tuesday vs. UTEP.
3. (7) Oregon State (4-1, 22)
Recent results: Lost 64-62 to No. 18 Vanderbilt, Beat Texas 100-95 OT, Beat Hofstra 82-72
Beat West Alabama 93-60, Beat Cal State Bakersfield 86-62
There’s more to the Beavers than Jared Cunningham, who scored a career-high 37 points last week and won the Pac-12 Player of the Week award Monday. Devon Collier, a 6-7 sophomore forward, is long and athletic, 5-9 sophomore point guard Ahmad Starks might be the best little man in the conference and 6-7, 280-pound forward Joe Burton is arguably the most skilled big man in the league.
Up next: Saturday at Towson
2. (1) California (4-1, 55)
Recent results: Lost 92-53 to No. 21 Missouri.
The Golden Bears top six players are as strong as anyone in the conference, but depth is an issue. Not sure why coach Mike Montgomery insists on overworking his starters. Freshman forward David Kravish and newcomer Justin Cobb have emerged as solid reserves, but the rest of the bench is thin. The lack of depth will hurt Cal in tournaments, especially Harper Kamp, Jorge Gutierrez and Allen Crabbe. Each ranked among the top 10 in the conference last season in average minutes played.
Up next: Saturday vs. Denver
1. (3) Stanford (5-0, 43)
Recent results: Oklahoma State, Won 70-49 at UC Davis
So much to like about the Cardinal. The defense, which is surrendering 55.8 points per game, is ranked first in the Pac-12 and among the top 22 nationally in points allowed. The three point guard lineup takes care of the ball and creates easy scoring opportunities for the big men. Chasson Randle (below, left) might be the best freshman point guard in the conference. Aaron Bright, the former Bellevue High standout, might be the most improved player in the conference. Senior forward Josh Owens is playing at an all-conference level.
Up next: Monday vs. Pacific
Photo credit: Getty Images – Patrick McDermott