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Power ranking Pac-12 basketball after coronavirus halted college sports

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pac12-college-basketball-coronavirus-rankings-las-vegas-2020-analysis-oregon-ducks-arizona-wildcats Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

This is supposed to be a special day for us. Instead, it marks the third full day without college basketball, and instead of celebrating Selection Sunday we’re wondering when we’ll ever get to see the sport again.

The global coronavirus pandemic is incredibly serious, and canceling both the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments was no doubt the right choice. That’s not up for debate.

What is, though, is how the Pac-12 power rankings finished up despite not getting a complete set of results from Las Vegas. Alas, we must still push forward.

All season long we have power ranked the league, breaking down how they fared in their most recent games and looking ahead to what’s next. But since we don’t really know what’s next, we’ll just focus on how everything ended up for each team.

1. Oregon Ducks (24-7)

Last week: 1st

The Ducks won the regular season title and were declared the conference champions without ever playing a game in Las Vegas. Would Oregon have beaten Oregon State in the quarterfinals? Most likely, and it would have been favored against either Arizona or USC in the semifinals as well as in the finals. So it goes when you have the Pac-12 Player of the Year in Payton Pritchard and the best overall coach in the league, Dana Altman.

2. UCLA Bruins (19-12)

Last week: 2nd

Mick Cronin won Pac-12 Coach of the Year after pulling off an amazing midseason turnaround in his first year with the Bruins. 10-10 at one point, UCLA had a chance to share the regular-season title and was probably going to the NCAA tournament even if it had lost to Cal in the Pac-12 quarterfinals.

3. USC Trojans (22-9)

Last week: 3rd

The Trojans were almost certainly going to the NCAA tournament, but beating Arizona in the quarterfinals certainly would have helped. Instead, USC’s season got to end on an incredibly positive note with Jonah Mathews breaking the school’s career 3-point record and beating rival UCLA on a buzzer beater. Hard to top that.

4. Arizona State Sun Devils (20-11)

Last week: 4th

Bobby Hurley had the Sun Devils heading toward a third straight NCAA tourney appearance, which hadn’t happened since the 1960s, and this one wouldn’t have included a trip to the First Four. ASU has long since closed the in-state gap and, assuming Hurley isn’t plucked away by a bigger program, it should remain in the top tier of the league for some time.

5. Arizona Wildcats (21-11)

Last week: 6th

The last time the Wildcats ended a season with a victory was 1997. No, we’re not trying to compare this one to that, but at least 2019-20’s abrupt finish wasn’t because of a crushing defeat. It certainly was a far-from-spectacular performance from Arizona, particularly with the talent it had at its disposal, but beat Washington in the first round Wednesday provided some ‘what if’ fodder for the long, uncertain road ahead.

6. Colorado Buffaloes (21-11)

Last week: 5th

If there’s any Pac-12 team that might have been secretly happy about the season ending early were the Buffaloes, who dropped their final five games including an ugly 14-point loss to Washington State in Las Vegas. Colorado was still going to make the NCAA tourney but how much confidence would they have had with the run they were on.

7. Stanford Cardinal (20-12)

Last week: 7th

A double-digit loss to Cal in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament was a fitting end for this up-and-down team. The Cardinal began 4-0 in conference play and then lost seven of eight, only to win four more in a row only to drop the final three. Knowing that trend they probably would have made it out of the first weekend.

8. Washington Huskies (15-17)

Last week: 8th

So at least we kinda got to see what this Huskies team was really capable for a week. That road sweep of the Arizona schools to end the regular season made Washington suddenly a dangerous No. 12 seed in Las Vegas. But it couldn’t replicate that success against Arizona again, instead reverting to the turnover-prone, shooting-challenged squad that started 3-13 in the league.

9. Oregon State Beavers (18-13)

Last week: 10th

Other than Washington, Oregon State might have been the most disappointing team in the Pac-12 considering its roster experience. But the Beavers did get to provide one of the league’s last highlights when Jarod Lucas drained a 3-pointer to beat Utah in the conference tourney. That and Tres Tinkle becoming OSU’s career scoring leader still make 2019-20 incredibly memorable.

10. Utah Utes (16-15)

Last week: 9th

Utah was the third least-experienced team in college basketball entering this season, per KenPom, and that certainly showed in the Utes going 12-2 in Salt Lake City and 4-13 everywhere else. But with that youth comes a lot of promise, especially with the late emergence of Alfonso Plummer, who sank a conference-record 11 3-pointers against Oregon State in Vegas (only to see OSU win on its own 3).

11. Washington State Cougars (16-15)

Last week: 12th

The final completed college basketball game of the 2019-20 season saw Washington State not only dismantle Colorado but in doing so earn its first Pac-12 tourney win since 2009. Who knows what the Cougars will look like next season, since this year’s roster was thrown together after a coaching change.

12. California Golden Bears (14-18)

Last week: 11th

Beating Stanford for a second time only furthered how much progress Cal made in Mark Fox’s first season. That was also his 300th career victory, and with the shutdown the Golden Bears get to head into the hiatus as winners rather than the bottom feeder they had been the previous two seasons.