The huddled mess that is the Pac-12 title race got a little bit of of clarity on Saturday night, with Arizona State finding itself alone at the top with two weeks of action left in the regular season.
It’s the latest in a season the Sun Devils have ever had sole possession of first, and if they can win out they’ll win their first-ever Pac-12 regular-season title. But lurking behind them are four teams with one fewer loss, so the top seed in the conference tournament in Las Vegas is far from decided.
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. Arizona State Sun Devils (19-8, 10-4)
Last week: 3rd
ASU has won seven in a row and nine of 10 after sweeping the Oregon schools at home, and it is doing so by living on the edge. The last five victories have been five or fewer points, with the Sun Devils now 8-1 in the league in two-possession games. If they can make it out of the Los Angeles trip without a blemish they’ll be in line for their first conference title since winning the WAC in 1975.
Up next: Thursday at UCLA, Saturday at USC
2. Oregon Ducks (21-7, 10-5)
Last week: 1st
Oregon finished up its road portion of Pac-12 play with its fourth split, bouncing back from the Thursday loss at ASU to beat Arizona in OT for the second time this season. Payton Pritchard might have locked up Player of the Year by dropping 38 at Arizona, and now he and the Ducks get their last three at home against foes with a combined 17-26 league record.
Up next: Thursday vs. Oregon State
3. UCLA Bruins (17-11, 10-5)
Last week: 5th
In sweeping the Mountain schools on the road, UCLA has thrust itself into the title race and at the very least will have a big say in who comes out on top. The Bruins get the Arizona schools at home this weekend and are playing with amazing confidence, winners of five straight and nine of 11 since a 1-3 start as Mick Cronin could end up being Coach of the Year after not being anywhere near their top choice to replace Steve Alford.
Up next: Thursday vs. Arizona State, Saturday vs. Arizona
4. Colorado Buffaloes (21-7, 10-5)
Last week: 2nd
Entering the weekend Colorado appeared to have the easiest path to winning the regular season title but it couldn’t take care of business. The Buffaloes trailed big early against USC before rallying and then blew a 9-point lead with 11 minutes at home to UCLA. They can look really good and really bad in the same game, which isn’t a winning recipe heading into March.
Up next: Thursday at California, Sunday at Stanford
5. Arizona Wildcats (19-8, 9-5)
Last week: 4th
A blowout win over Oregon State on Thursday set the stage for a big chance two days later against Oregon, and Arizona looked like it was ready to finally win a big game. Then it couldn’t hold a late lead just like in losing to the Ducks in January, with the Wildcats missing two free throws in the final seconds of regulation and overtime. This squad has so much talent but no finishing move.
Up next: Thursday at USC, Saturday at UCLA
6. Stanford Cardinal (18-9, 7-7)
Last week: 9th
The Stanford team that began 4-0 finally reappeared up in Washington, sweeping the Huskies and Cougars by a combined 22 points, limiting their opponents to 11-of-54 shooting from 3-point range. Defense has never been an issue for the Cardinal, which are in the top 10 nationally, it’s just a matter of being consistent on offense.
Up next: Wednesday vs. Utah, Sunday vs. Colorado
7. USC Trojans (19-9, 8-7)
Last week: 7th
When February began USC was in position to be in first place all by itself. Now, after five losses in the last seven (including four straight on the road following a sweep in the mountains) the Trojans are just trying to avoid being the lower-seeded team on the first day of the Pac-12 tourney. A three-game homestand to end the regular season features three of the five teams fighting for first place.
Up next: Thursday vs. Arizona, Saturday vs. Arizona State
8. Oregon State Beavers (15-12, 5-10)
Last week: 8th
Oregon State has the worst defense in the Pac-12 and it showed in getting swept at the Arizona schools, allowing at least 1.15 points per possession in each loss. Tres Tinkle went from getting ejected at Arizona on Thursday to dropping 25 at ASU on Saturday but that wasn’t enough.
Up next: Thursday at Oregon
9. Utah Utes (15-12, 6-9)
Last week: 10th
Utah is 11-2 at home this season, including 6-2 in Pac-12 play after splitting with the Los Angeles schools, but only has one contest left in Salt Lake City. The Utes are 4-9 away from the Hunstman Center and winless on the road in the conference, by far the most bipolar team in the league.
Up next: Wednesday at Stanford, Saturday at California
10. California Golden Bears (11-16, 5-9)
Last week: 11th
Winning at Washington State on Thursday meant Cal has as many conference victories this season than in the two disastrous years under Wyking Jones. Then Saturday’s 87-52 loss at Washington, in which he scored more points on free throws than field goals, shows just how much more work has to be done for the Golden Bears to be consistently competitive under Mark Fox.
Up next: Thursday vs. Colorado, Saturday vs. Utah
11. Washington State Cougars (14-14, 5-10)
Last week: 9th
Reality has caught up to Washington State, which after pulling off some shockers earlier in league play has lost four straight with the last three by a combined 47 points. Isaac Bonton’s hip injury has taken away a big part of the offense and there’s nobody playing much defense on the Cougars.
Up next: Friday at Washington
12. Washington Huskies (13-15, 3-12)
Last week: 12th
Washington ended its nine-game skid in a big way against California, and in doing so is once against outscoring its Pac-12 opponents despite only winning three times. So it goes for a Huskies team that has two likely NBA Draft picks but also nine losses by eight or fewer points. They could be the most dangerous No. 12 seed in any conference tournament.
Up next: Friday vs. Washington State