PAC-10 WEEKEND WRAP: Cal rules the roost

If you haven't read today's post on community expectations, please take a moment to do so. We'll be reminding you about it periodically at the top of posts leading up to Thursday's game thread.

Just three weeks to go in the Pac-10 race, and it took this long to come up with what had to be the most uneventful weekend of the season. Just one real upset to speak of and lots of uncompelling games. Not that I'm complaining -- it makes it easier to write this thing, you know?

Here are the standings:


Pacific-10 Conference Standings

(updated 2.14.2010 at 11:22 PM PST)

Conf Overall
W L W L
California Golden Bears 9 4 17 8
Arizona St. Sun Devils 8 5 18 8
USC Trojans 7 5 15 9
Washington Huskies 7 6 17 8
Arizona Wildcats 7 6 13 12
UCLA Bruins 6 6 11 13
Oregon St. Beavers 5 7 11 13
Washington St. Cougars 5 8 15 10
Stanford Cardinal 5 8 11 14
Oregon Ducks 4 8 12 12

Maybe, just maybe, Cal's actually ready to run away with this thing. When you look at the Bears' final five games, it's awful tough to see them going any worse than 4-1. But then again, we've said that before, haven't we?

As for the rest of the conference, Arizona State stands the best chance of catching the Bears, as the Sun Devils still have a head-to-head matchup with them down the stretch (although it is at Haas). Washington finally got its first road win over hapless comeback machine Stanford, and the Wildcats are heading in the wrong direction.

The most compelling part of the race might be the the one to stay out of ninth and 10th place, since those two teams will end up in a play-in game in the Pac-10 Tournament. Unfortunately, the Cougs now find themselves squarely in that middle of the conversation, now just a half game out of last place. Ugh.

As befitting a boring weekend, not a tremendous amount of change in the rankings. Just a reminder that these are power rankings, meaning that I would expect any team ranked above another to beat that team right now on a neutral floor.

1. California

Rank last week: 1
Record last week: 2-0
Overall Record: 17-8

It sure looks like the Bears are getting stronger as the season goes along. We talked with Bracketology 101 on the 18 And Life podcast, and he still thinks the Bears have some work to do be assured a bid if they lose in the conference tournament. I'll just say this: With Theo Robertson and Jorge Gutierrez hitting their stride, Cal has so many weapons, I wouldn't want to be the team who plays them in the Dance.

2. Washington

Rank last week: 3
Record last week:
1-1
Overall Record:
17-8

I'm moving the Huskies up. While the final margin against Stanford might not have been indicative of the closeness of that game, it's still an 18-point win on the road. ON THE ROAD! And I'm not going to penalize them for the loss to Cal -- if anything, UW impressed me in that one. They're playing with more confidence, that's for sure.

3. Arizona State

Rank last week: 4
Record last week: 2-0
Overall Record: 18-8

Now we know what Tony Bennett saw in Ty Abbott that caused him to go so hard after him. He scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to put away a pesky Oregon squad on Saturday. The Sun Devils just keep plugging along, being their mature, consistent selves. They've got a better shot at this thing than most want to admit.

4. USC

Rank last week: 5
Record last week: 1-0
Overall Record: 15-9

The completion of the season sweep of the Bruins means the Trojans are just a game and a half out of first place. Their defense is so good, I really would love to see what it could do to some unsuspecting team in the NCAA Tournament.

5. Arizona

Rank last week: 2
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 13-12

I was willing to give the Wildcats the benefit of the doubt last week, but there's really no excuse for losing to Oregon State at home if Arizona is as good as we thought they might be when they sat atop the conference two weeks ago. The good news is that they have a chance to prove themselves again when the Sun Devils visit McKale this weekend.

6. UCLA

Rank last week: 6
Record last week: 0-1
Overall Record: 11-13

Some people think coaching UCLA is one of the great jobs in college basketball. I beg to differ. Case in point, from BruinsNation.com:

Let's make this clear. This season is over. I don't really care what comes out of the mouths of Howland and his players (we will LOL at the words if they continue to serve up the same listless nonsense), if the Bruins do not come back next season to make a (legitimate) run at the conference title with 20+ season, Howland's seat is going to get warmer.

That's right: They say Ben Howland's seat is warm. You can't make this stuff up. Yeah, he's whiffed on a few guys the last few years, but early defections have played their part. UCLA is always one great recruiting class away from being amazing again.

Then again, maybe I should just ride this wave. Please, UCLA -- fire Ben Howland! He sucks!

(Is this a violation of our Community Guidelines? I'm not sure ...)

7. Oregon State

Rank last week: 8
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 11-13

We talked about it on 18 And Life, but I've got a lot of respect for the Beavers that they haven't mailed it in this season. There were a lot of high expectations that were torpedoed early. Maybe Criag Robinson -- did you know he's President Obama's brother in law? -- has them believing they've got as good a shot as anyone to win the conference tournament. If so, he might not be lying.

8. Washington State

Rank last week: 7
Record last week: 0-2
Overall Record: 15-10

Dropping like a rock are the Cougs. For all the promise they show at times, the reality is they can't be counted on to do much of anything, outside of flashing promise of what's to come. If the Cougs want any chance whatsoever to make any noise in the Pac-10 Tournament, they really need to figure out a way to do two things: 1) Stay above 9th place; 2) Avoid a first-round matchup with Arizona State. If they can do that, who knows what can happen.

9. Stanford

Rank last week: 10
Record last week: 1-1
Record: 11-14

Like the Beavers, the Cardinal just keep fighting. Did you know that Landry Fields and Jeremy Green combine to take about 60 percent of Stanford's shots? Wowser. But you know what that is? Smart. Honestly, I have no idea how Johnny Dawkins gets as much as he does out of a team with only two legitimate Pac-10 players on it. 

10. Oregon

Rank last week: 7
Record last week: 0-1
Overall Record: 12-10

"Hello, Mark? You know who. I'm just not going to stop calling until you say yes. OK?"

Like what you read? Then check out us out on Twitter @CougCenter and @NussCoug. It's the same good stuff ... just with more brevity. Some of you will probably find that attractive.

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