Welcome to the Pac-10 Weekend Wrap. Dvieira over at Addicted To Quack coordinates a conference basketball power poll with the Pac-10 bloggers at SBN, and I'm a voter. Here's my ballot with my thoughts on each team's weekend; you can find the full power rankings here at ATQ.
Let's see, UCLA beats USC ... USC beats ASU ... ASU beats UCLA? Or, better yet, Cal beats WSU ... WSU beats Stanford ... Stanford beats Cal ... what the hell? Outside of the bottom two, this conference is a mess. If I had to put my life on the line to defend this order, I'm pretty sure I'd be dead. What it means is that I really didn't change the order much.
Last week's rank listed after team name.
1. ASU (1)
Last week, I said ASU had the look of a Final Four team. Then they go out and lose -- badly -- to USC with what was easily their worst offensive performance of the year. Then they go out and overcome an 11-point second-half deficit to beat UCLA at Pauley. Will the real ASU please stand up?
ASU taught us two things this weekend. First, this team needs to learn how to score points when James Harden struggles. He had just four points against USC, a big reason why ASU lost that game. If this team wants to go deep into March, other guys are going to have to be ready step up. Better to figure that sort of stuff out now, rather than two months from now. But second, in that second half, we learned just why this team is so darn dangerous with Harden in the backcourt.
2. UCLA (2)
The Bruins have to be asking themselves the same thing I was asking myself on Saturday: How in the heck did they lose that game? It's pretty simple, actually, as the old saying, "Live by the sword, die by the sword," applies here. Saturday showed just why UCLA will not be making another Final Four appearance: You cannot shoot your way to the Final Four. Against teams that won't allow them to get out in transition, this team is just too reliant on outside shots.
3. USC (5)
Biggest jump of the week here, thanks to that superlative defensive performance against ASU (with an assist by Cal's loss to Stanford). The only thing keeping me from ranking the Trojans this high before was an inconsistent offense, which seems to have finally figured it out, posting efficiency ratings of greater than 107 in three consecutive games. It came just in time, as they needed every bit of it to come back on the Wildcats, to whom they allowed a 59 eFG%. Are they going to bring the intensity they brought against ASU every night? If not, they better watch out this weekend, or they could be heading back to LA 0-2.
4. Washington (4)
I almost ranked the Huskies No. 3, because I'm becoming more and more convinced that they really are that good. But I think the toughest thing in the first rotation through the Pac-10 schedule is going to be figuring out how to value wins over Oregon and Oregon State. How impressive were they this weekend? Let's turn to the Brother-in-Law Elect:
“That is a very good team there, I’m surprised they’re not ranked,” OSU coach Craig Robinson said. “… They’re the team that handled us the best this year. Even UCLA, when we lost that game we played them evenly in the second half. But this was a game where we seemed overmatched.”
5. Cal (3)
Methinks someone began to believe their own hype. I know it was a rivalry game, I know it was Montgomery's return to Palo Alto, and I know it was at Maples ... but still. Cal is a better team than Stanford, and should have won that game. The sad part is that this really could have built some momentum for the Bears, who ought to destroy Oregon and OSU this weekend.
6. Arizona (6)
I debated dropping the Wildcats below the Cougs, seeing as how they're 0-4 against everyone outside the state of Oregon. But the Cougs are only 1-2 against teams outside the state of Oregon, and I'm still not sure they're better than Arizona. This one could have gone either way, and to me the tiebreaker was how tough the Wildcats played USC on Saturday after getting annihilated by UCLA.
7. WSU (7)
The Cougs did what they were supposed to do, and the offense is getting better. But we'll get a true temperature check this weekend when the LA schools come to town. Win one, and I feel very good about where this team is headed. Lose both, and I have to wonder how much of it was just playing two terrible teams this weekend.
8. Stanford (8)
Nice win over Cal. Still don't think the Cardinal are all that good, and couldn't move them above the Cougs since I think the Cougs are better. Congrats to Lawrence Hill for
stealing winning Pac-10 player of the week honors.
9. Oregon State (9)
After watching the way the Beavers executed against the Cougars for the first 30 minutes or so of that game, all I could think was, "What will Craig Robinson be able to do when he actually has Pac-10 talent to work with?"
10. Oregon (10)
The Ducks' AD insists that Ernie Kent is in no danger of losing his job. But is there any coach who does less with more just about every year than Kent? Think about it: Are the Ducks really in any worse spot, rebuilding wise, than the Cougs are? Should the dropoff be this precipitous? I say no. Oregon would be wise to get a new coach this offseason, one that can truly capitalize on the talent Kent has put in place. That would be a lucky person set up to succeed.