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PAC-10 WEEKEND WRAP: Fear the Wildcats ... but they're not No. 1

About 24 hours late here, but hopefully worth the wait.

After all of us cracking jokes all year about everyone finishing 9-9, an interesting thing has happened -- a couple of teams look like they just might be ready to separate themselves from the pack. And Arizona and Cal battled it out on Sunday in what was the best game of the first half of the Pac-10 schedule. (Something we talked about extensively on 18 And Life. No, I have no shame. And no, it does not embarrass me. Go listen!)

The result was the Bears and Wildcats sitting atop the standings together:

Pacific-10 Conference Standings

(updated 1.31.2010 at 11:00 PM PST)

Conf Overall
California Golden Bears 6 3 14 7
Arizona Wildcats 6 3 12 9
Arizona St. Sun Devils 5 4 15 7
UCLA Bruins 5 4 10 11
Washington Huskies 4 5 14 7
Washington St. Cougars 4 5 14 7
USC Trojans 4 5 12 9
Oregon Ducks 4 5 12 9
Stanford Cardinal 4 5 10 11
Oregon St. Beavers 3 6 9 12

Of course, this is all only valid until someone craps the bed, which Arizona very well could do this weekend. And Cal has to travel to USC and UCLA, hardly gimmes at this point. And Oregon is showing just how fast a team can vault itself back into the picture with just a sweep or two.

In other words, it's still anyone's conference to win.

On to 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. Also, abbreviated comments this week, as I've got a ton of things on my plate. It's the end of the semester, you know.

1. California

Rank last week: 1
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 14-7

The losses on the second game of the weekend -- especially the flat performances from Jerome Randle -- are cause for concern on a team with such a shallow bench. That said, it's not like they played poorly against Arizona, so I'm not going to hammer them too much for this.

2. Arizona

Rank last week: 3
Record last week: 2-0
Overall Record: 12-9

Some might take exception with me ranking the Wildcats behind the Bears, but I still maintain the Bears are the better team on a neutral floor. Arizona rode a wave of emotion -- and a loud McKale crowd -- to the win. No shame in that, but I'd be remiss if I didn't consider it.

3. Arizona State

Rank last week: 2
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 15-7

The Sun Devils just looked out-manned against Cal. As the rest of the league improves, I'm curious to see if the Sun Devils -- who are fairly limited on talent -- can continue to win. They'll still compete, because that's what Herb Sendek teams do, but I think flaws are going to progressively get exposed.


Rank last week: 6
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 10-11

This is still a deeply flawed team -- I mean, the Bruins can still lose to Oregon when they don't shoot well -- but they've been on more often than they've been off lately. Reeves Nelson is making me a believer. Gosh, I would absolutely kill to have him next to DeAngelo Casto right now.

5. Washington

Rank last week: 7
Record last week:
Overall Record:

Hooray for beating the crap out of two more opponents at home! Good news for the Huskies: Two more home games before heading out on the road. They'll have all of us drinking the Kool Aid again in a week.

6. Washington State

Rank last week: 4
Record last week: 0-1
Overall Record: 14-7

I've been ranking the Cougs at the top end of this middle tier for a little while now. Perhaps we just need to come to grips with what this team is ... and what it is not. We're 21 games into the season. To expect this team to all of a sudden start putting together consistent performances probably isn't reasonable.

7. Oregon

Rank last week: 10
Record last week: 2-0
Overall Record: 12-9

Sweeps sandwiching five losses? Whatever. I quit trying to figure these guys out. In my mind, the sweep almost strengthens the case for firing Ernie Kent -- why don't his teams play like this every weekend?

8. USC

Rank last week: 5
Record last week: 0-2
Overall Record: 12-9

Have the Trojans run out of gas? Or out of motivation? Or both? Getting swept convincingly on what is definitely the easiest road trip of the schedule is not good.

9. Oregon State

Rank last week: 9
Record last week: 1-1
Overall Record: 9-11

Same old, same old: Can't hang onto the ball, can't shoot the ball.

10. Stanford

Rank last week: 8
Record last week: 0-2
Record: 10-11

Someone please explain to me how this team has the same record as Washington, USC and Washington State. Please. I'm tempted to give Johnny Dawkins coach of the year for that mere fact alone. Name me one guy on the roster other than Landry Fields and Jeremy Green. (No peeking!) That's what I thought.

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.