A leader has emerged from the muddled pack that was the top of the Pac-12 Conference standings. After six weeks, Colorado is a game clear of Oregon and a game up in the loss column on Arizona and Arizona State.
But there are still four weeks left before the regular season is over, and there are plenty of matchups between that quartet still on the schedule. There are also plenty of games against the second and third tiers, which teams like Arizona and Oregon discovered on Saturday are just as dangerous.
After each week’s results we will rank the league, breaking down how they fared in their most recent games and looking ahead to what’s next.
1. Colorado Buffaloes (19-5, 8-3)
Last week: 2nd
All alone in first place after a home sweep of the Bay Area schools, Colorado is in the driver’s seat but has a tough journey ahead of it. Five of its last seven are on the road, starting with a trip to Oregon and ending league play with a three-game trip. The Buffaloes have the top offense in Pac-12 play while Tyler Bey (15.0 PPG, 9.1 RPG in conference games) is making his case for Player of the Year.
Up next: Thursday at Oregon, Saturday at Oregon State
2. Oregon Ducks (18-6, 7-4)
Last week: 1st
All four of Oregon’s league losses are on the road, including two straight following Saturday’s 63-53 setback at Oregon State that saw it get outscored 33-13 over the final 17 minutes. Not surprisingly, those have been the Ducks’ four worst offensive performances in Pac-12 play, with Payton Pritchard missing 30 of his 42 shots during the two-game skid.
Up next: Thursday vs. Colorado, Sunday vs. Utah
3. Arizona State Sun Devils (15-8, 6-4)
Last week: 7th
A home sweep of the Los Angeles schools—something Arizona hasn’t pulled off in four years—has ASU right in the hunt for the conference title. That is, if the Sun Devils can find a way to rally when down at halftime on the road like they do in Tempe (they trailed USC by eight on Saturday). More efficiency to go with that fast tempo couldn’t hurt, either.
Up next: Thursday at Stanford, Sunday at California
4. Arizona Wildcats (16-7, 6-4)
Last week: 3rd
The worst shooting performance by Arizona in the 47-year history of McKale Center (25.4 percent) resulted in a third straight home loss to UCLA and kept it from being tied for first place. The Wildcats showed on their last road trip they can win without the offense clicking, which may need to be how they operate the rest of the way until they figure out how to score when not in transition.
Up next: Thursday at California, Saturday at Stanford
5. UCLA Bruins (13-11, 6-5)
Last week: 6th
After getting blown out at Arizona State on Thursday, the last thing anyone could have expected was for UCLA to dominate Arizona in Tucson two days later. But that’s what the Bruins did, employing defense-first coach Mick Cronin’s style to perfection, and combined with a gradually improving offense they have a shot to challenge for a top-4 seed at the Pac-12 tourney if they sweep the struggling Washington schools at home next weekend.
Up next: Thursday vs. Washington State, Saturday vs. Washington
6. Stanford Cardinal (16-7, 5-5)
Last week: 4th
Things went horribly wrong for Stanford in the mountains over the weekend, and not just because it was swept. The Cardinal rallied to force overtime at Utah only to lose in the extra session, then they blew a 16-point lead at Colorado and saw junior forward Oscar Da Silva suffer a scary head injury in the second half. Once 4-0 in the conference, five losses in the last six (with a win over Oregon wedged in there) has their place in the standings falling fast.
Up next: Thursday vs. Arizona State, Saturday vs. Stanford
7. USC Trojans (17-7, 6-5)
Last week: 5th
USC could have been alone in first place had it beat Colorado at home on Feb. 1. Instead the Trojans have dropped three in a row and continue to be a turnover machine while incapable of forcing takeaways. Just being able to rebound well isn’t enough for the Trojans to get by, something they can try to work on at home against the Washington schools.
Up next: Thursday vs. Washington, Saturday vs. Washington State
8. Oregon State Beavers (14-9, 4-7)
Last week: 9th
Should we really be surprised that Oregon State beat Oregon on Saturday? After all, the Beavers seem to play their best against some of the Pac-12’s better schools—their other wins are over Arizona, Colorado and Stanford, the last two on the road—while they’ve fallen to both Washington teams as well as UCLA and Utah. You do you, OSU.
Up next: Thursday vs. Utah, Saturday vs. Colorado
9. Utah Utes (14-9, 5-6)
Last week: 8th
A sweep of the Bay Area schools has Utah now 5-1 at home in Pac-12 play and winners of 12 of its last 13 in Salt Lake City. Too bad the Utes only have three more there this season, and even worse is their seven-game road skid as they head to the Oregon schools with their offense making only 38.5 percent of their shots the last four games.
Up next: Thursday vs. Oregon State, Sunday vs. Oregon
10. Washington State Cougars (14-10, 5-6)
Last week: 11th
Beating rival Washington at home on Sunday night, thanks to C.J. Elleby’s career-high 34, means Washington State has its most conference wins since 2017 (with seven to go) and its most overall victories since the 2011-12 team that played for a CBI title. First-year coach Kyle Smith has done wonders with Ernie Kent’s leftovers, but sadly the Cougars’ six-game conference road losing streak and five of their last seven outside Pullman means there might not be much more climbing.
Up next: Thursday at UCLA, Saturday at USC
11. California Golden Bears (10-13, 4-6)
Last week: 10th
Cal was swept at the Rocky Mountain schools, hanging with Colorado on Thursday before averaging 0.7 points per possession at Utah. The Golden Bears have dropped to last in the league in offensive efficiency, which combined with the slowest tempo makes for some ugly games that are becoming harder to win as the season goes on.
Up next: Thursday vs. Arizona, Sunday vs. Arizona State
12. Washington Huskies (12-12, 2-9)
Last week: 12th
Last season’s Pac-12 champs have now lost six in a row after falling at Washington State on Sunday, its longest skid since losing the final 13 games of the 2016-17 season. That prompted the Huskies to fire Lorenzo Romar and hire Mike Hopkins, but like that squad—which had eventual No. 1 NBA pick Markelle Fultz—there’s a lot of talent being wasted.
Up next: Thursday at USC, Saturday at UCLA