Another week has gone by in the Pac-12, and a clear divide between the top and bottom halves of the conference has been established.
There are some big-time series this week after a bunch of uninteresting ones last week.
Arizona fans are gonna hate who I have at the top spot now, but the Wildcats will have their chance to knock them off in a week and a half.
1. Arizona State Sun Devils (18-7, 7-2 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 2
ASU slips up into the top thanks to taking care of business and sweeping Stanford at home. The Sun Devils get Utah this weekend, with a couple of midweek games mixed in before the Arizona series next weekend. Assuming ASU takes care of business again, that UA series is gonna be crazy.
2. USC Trojans (22-6, 4-2 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 1
I've had USC in the top spot for a couple weeks, including last week, but a loss and two extra-inning wins against Washington is not good enough to hold on to the No. 1 ranking. Whoever wins this weekend's series in Tucson will certainly bolster their tournament resume, and be sitting in a pretty good spot in the conference standings. USC has one great weekend under their belt this year, but the rest of their schedule has been questionable. It'll be interesting to see how Arizona does against them.
3. UCLA Bruins (21-5, 8-1 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 5
This team has certainly returned to their hot ways of early in the season. They've now won their last eight games and ten of their last eleven. But just like USC, they've gone through the not-so-tough Washington portion of their schedule so far. Next up for UCLA is Oregon State, and in two weeks, USC. Also, every one of the their next 14 games are on TV, so they'll be able to showcase themselves to a bigger audience than normal.
4. California Golden Bears (20-7, 7-2 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 4
Cal now joins Arizona as teams that have lost a game to Utah this year after dropping Sunday's contest 3-2. The Bears also lost a game to Fresno State last week, so things aren't exactly as happy and bright there as they were a week ago. Washington State is up this weekend, and then struggling Stanford after that. Just what Cal needs to get back on track.
5. Oregon State Beavers (21-7, 4-2 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 3
The Beavs were almost swept by Cal Poly this weekend....in Corvallis. That's not a good look heading into a big series at UCLA this weekend.
6. Arizona Wildcats (22-6, 7-2 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 7
Those two Utah losses are going to loom large throughout the rest of the season I think, but it's nice to sweep Stanford and Oregon in back-to-back weekends, even though both programs are having down years. The next 14 games for Arizona are with teams above them in this week's power rankings, so the opportunity to move up is there.
7. Washington Huskies (15-12, 2-7 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 8
And so begins the bottom half of the conference. UW gets the top spot in this tier because they won a game against USC, and the other two games went to extra innings. The Huskies are definitely the most competitive of the teams down here. With Stanford and WSU on deck the next two weekends, UW could get back above .500 in conference play.
8. Oregon Ducks (17-11, 2-7 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 6
Watching this team in person this weekend, it seems pretty clear that they are just like the 2014 Arizona team. A ton of talent on the roster, but no energy or competitiveness is there. George Horton is not going to be a fun person to be around for the rest of 2015.
9. Utah Utes (9-17, 3-6 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 11
Shoutout to Utah for beating another top team this week in Cal. There's no way I could keep them below WSU and Stanford with three conference wins. How about some more wins against the top half of the conference when hosting ASU this weekend? Deal? Deal.
10. Washington State Cougars (12-14, 1-8 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 9
Yeah, WSU just isn't very good at baseball. Now they'll get a Cal team coming off a loss to Utah. Have fun with that Coug fans.
11. Stanford Cardinal (10-14, 0-6 Pac-12)
Previous ranking: 10
I never thought I would have Stanford at the bottom of the conference, but here we are. They have not won a conference game since Cal Quantrill went down with Tommy John Surgery, and frankly, they haven't been very close in a lot of these games either. It's gonna be a long year on the farm.
12. North Dakota (8-13, 3-3 WAC)
Last week's honorary Pac-12 team was Northern Colorado, so it only seems right to have the team that swept them this weekend be on the list. The mascot-less North Dakotas have not played a home game yet this season, which seems remarkable. Their next eight games are scheduled to be at home, so that's nice. Also, North Dakota played two games in Tucson this year against something called Dickinson State. They split two games at TEP on St. Patrick's Day. We are all North Dakota.
Two big series this weekend with USC at Arizona and Oregon State at UCLA. It's time for some of these teams to make a move, and put themselves in a good spot heading into the second half of conference play.