Sorry this is a day late -- busy week. My thoughts will be abbreviated as well, but hopefully you'll have some thoughts of your own.
Dvieira over at Addicted To Quack used to coordinate a conference basketball power poll with the Pac-10 bloggers at SBN, but apparently nobody else really likes to vote other than me. So, he scrapped it. But fear not -- you'll still get my rankings for this week. Here's what my ballot would have been, with my thoughts on each team's weekend.
Just one more weekend to go!
1. Washington (1)
I don't know how much more I can say about Washington that I haven't already said. They're deep, they're -- gasp! -- disciplined, and they're clearly the class of the conference. Interesting note: The Huskies play Seattle U. tonight, and Ken Pomeroy gives the Redhawks exactly zero percent chance of winning.
2. UCLA (4)
The offense continues to be good, but the defense continues to be mediocre. Do you realize UCLA has allowed its opponent to exceed the national average in eFG% 17 times in 29 games this year? Compare that to the last two years, when it was 14 in 39 (2007-08) and 15 in 36 (2006-07). This team continues to strike me as one that could just as easily flame out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as one that could go to the Elite Eight with the right or wrong matchups.
3. Cal (5)
This conference is such a mess in the middle right now. The Bears have lost 2 of 3, yet are ranked third? At least they didn't get swept last weekend like some other teams, and they very easily could have beaten both LA schools if not for what some are calling a classic Pac-10 ref job against UCLA. I kept thinking their reliance on shooting would bring them back down to earth at some point this season, but it's probably time to start recognizing that this team is just that good shooting the basketball, and that it might be poised to really do some damage in the postseason.
4. ASU (2)
The Sun Devils are tired, and that's bad news. James Harden looks like he did toward the end of last season -- there's only so much of a load a college player can carry, especially when he plays the game the way Harden does. Honestly, if ASU can beat the Bay Area schools at home this weekend, this is a team that probably would benefit more from an early flame-out in the Pac-10 tournament and the rest that would provide than from a deep run that might marginally improve their seeding.
5. WSU (8)
Nobody wants to be facing the Cougs right now. Nobody. Why? Because the defense is back: Just 85.0 and 93.4 efficiencies allowed to Arizona and Arizona State. As teams are wearing down, the Cougs are amping up with young, fresh legs who are bringing it with everything they've got for 20-25 minutes. Advantage, WSU. Too bad we're playing the deepest team in the conference this weekend ...
6. Arizona (3)
Speaking of tired teams, Russ Pennell is feeling the consequences of riding his big three so hard. With last year's terrible recruiting class, there is just so little depth in Tucson. Three games ago, the Wildcats were a tournament lock. Now? Lunardi's got them as one of his last four in after a disastrous run through the northwest that once again left them without a quality road win. Seriously, Arizona's best road win is ... Oregon State. Not exactly impressing the committee at some point. While the Wildcats would probably also benefit from an early loss in the Pac-10 tournament from a rest standpoint, but they probably can't afford it from a resume standpoint. Not an enviable position to be in.
7. Oregon State (7)
Too bad for the Beavers that their defense fell apart so dramatically in the second half against the Ducks. They were building a pretty legitimate NIT case, but now stand a game below .500 overall while preparing to visit USC and UCLA. Sweeping this weekend is an awful tall order, but that's probably what would be required to secure a postseason spot. That said, the future is darn bright in Corvallis. Whatever they're paying AD Bob De Carolis, they probably need to double it. With the success of the baseball team, football team and the hiring of Robinson, he'd be at the top of my list if I was looking for a new AD at Big Time University.
8. USC (6)
Yes, I know USC just lost to Stanford, and have lost six of seven. But look at that brutal stretch they've just completed -- five of seven on the road. It's the defense that's failed the Trojans in that time, a pretty stunning turnaround for a team that not too long ago was considered to have the premier defense in the Pac-10. There's a reason why coaches generally stay away from gimmick defenses -- they might work for a night, but good coaches always figure them out. The Trojans are fading, but with a quick turnaround this weekend, they could be right back in the hunt.
9. Stanford (9)
Thank goodness they beat USC. Otherwise, the Cardinal would be No. 10. Their defense is easily the worst in the conference outside of Eugene, and that's a killer the Pac-10.
10. Oregon (10)
Two wins in a row? Is armageddon on the horizon? In all seriousness, though, the defense was the difference for the Ducks in that second half comeback against the Beavers, as sure a sign as any that Ernie Kent really is making progress with this team.