A few key matchups were decided and there was some shifting throughout the conference. While it's still relatively early in the schedule, the better teams in the league are already beginning to distance themselves from the bottom-feeders.
After going into Pauley Pavilion and defeating UCLA, the Ducks stand as the lone undefeated team in Pac-12 play. What's even more encouraging for Oregon is the fact that its schedule lacks another matchup with Arizona or UCLA.
With how UO is performing, it's hard to predict where its first conference loss could come from. The Ducks face a big test this weekend as UW travels to Oregon in an attempt to gain a tie of the conference lead.
The Wildcats took care of business in their victory over rival Arizona State on Saturday. ASU was expected to give UA a run for its money and while the game was close for 30 minutes, the Wildcats turned it up a notch down the stretch – as they have done all season – and were able to pull away.
The Wildcats have a tough stretch coming up, starting with a matchup against UCLA at McKale on Thursday. After hosting the Los Angeles schools, the Wildcats face a big road test when they travel to Seattle to face Washington. If Arizona can come through those two affairs unscathed, it positions itself even better for a run at the conference crown down the stretch.
UCLA had a chance to assert itself as top dog in the Pac-12, but failed to do so when it lost on its home court to Oregon. UCLA is still in good position, however, and it they can find a way to upset the Wildcats in Tucson on Thursday, it has the opportunity to reel off several victories in a row given the Bruins' upcoming schedule.
After defeating Colorado by double digits, the Huskies looked primed to remain undefeated as they hosted Utah over the weekend. Things didn't go quite as planned for UW and, instead of taking care of business against a mediocre Utes squad, Washington was dominated by a previously winless team.
5. Arizona State
The Sun Devils have now lost two in a row after dropping a home game to Arizona over the weekend. Not only did ASU lose the contest, but it also looked like the squad most observers expected it to be before the season started. The only players that were able to produce with consistency against UA were freshman standout Jahii Carson and swingman Evan Gordon, while the rest of the team played subpar collectively.
ASU is going to show the rest of the conference what its made of in the coming weeks. The Sun Devils host UCLA this weekend before traveling to Washington the following week, where they will face a very good, but beatable UW squad. They will need to put forth a better effort in coming weeks than what they showed against the Wildcats, otherwise, Arizona State could fall back to the middle of the pack.
After picking up a solid win over Cal, the Cardinal may have established a stepping stone towards the rest of the season. Stanford doesn't have the look of a squad ready to compete for the Pac-12 championship, but with a nice stretch, it could find itself on the bubble next month.
The problem for the Cardinal is that they have a very tough road ahead that features two matchups with the Ducks and one with the Wildcats. They also have seven more road games remaining, so the odds are stacked against them going forward.
Cal has been a very inconsistent squad since Pac-12 play began. The Golden Bears' only two conference victories are over two teams expected to hold residencies in the Pac-12 basement for the rest of the season. When playing formidable opponents, Cal has struggled to stay competitive.
What's even worse for the Bears is that they have yet to face Oregon or Arizona this season. Needless to say, it doesn't look like Berkeley has much to cheer about this season in the world of college basketball.
The Trojans have looked much more competitive than originally anticipated. They nearly pulled off an unlikely comeback against the Ducks last week, but ultimately fell short. USC ended up earning a victory over Oregon State in a close affair to move back to .500 in the Pac-12.
The upcoming stretch is not going to be favorable for the Trojans. They have yet to face either Arizona school, UCLA or Washington and still have to play each of those squads twice. USC has been able to break even thus far against the Pac-12, but that trend isn't likely to continue in the coming weeks.
The struggles of CU continue to be a surprising storyline in the Pac-12. The Buffaloes were controlled by Washington for 40 minutes and fell to 1-4 against Pac-12 foes before finally coming up with a victory on Saturday over lowly Washington State.
Luckily for Colorado, its remaining schedule does not feature UCLA and it faces Arizona just once more. There are also two matchups with the Ducks remaining, but the Buffaloes' schedule could provide them with an opportunity to make a run. They have to start winning now, however, as another loss or two in the coming weeks will put a serious dent in their chance at the big dance.
10. Washington State
The Cougars finally ended their winless drought in conference play by defeating Utah. They were immediately brought right back down to earth with a loss to Colorado in a game where they couldn't get anything going offensively.
With only one really reliable player on the squad, Wazzu shows no signs of improving any time in the near future. With six games of their games remaining featuring Oregon, Arizona or UCLA, the Cougars have a slate that will prevent them from looking competitive, let alone making a run.
When you beat a team that was previously undefeated in conference play, you would figure there would be a significant jump for that squad in the rankings. The Utes did look impressive in their win over Washington, but they also handed Washington State its first Pac-12 victory of the season last week as well.
While Utah has battled with the better teams in the conference, it hasn't played as well against mediocre competition. At this point in time, their hole is too deep to climb out of considering their remaining schedule that includes two games against Oregon and one versus Arizona.
12. Oregon State
Being the lone team in the Pac-12 without a win makes the Beavers an easy choice for last place in the rankings. OSU had an opportunity to defeat USC on Saturday, but Aaron Fuller's layup late in the contest kept Oregon State's Pac-12 win total at zero.
With games against squads like Wazzu, Stanford, Cal and Utah, the Beavers have winnable games ahead, but it doesn't look like Oregon State will be very competitive in conference play at any point this season.