With so much focus on Pac-12 football news over the past week, the basketball product was easily overlooked. That’s probably a good thing for the conference, given results on the court.
The long Thanksgiving weekend brought a total of 16 non-conference games. The Pac-12 won five of them.
Oregon lost to Houston by 29.
Washington lost to Nevada by 19.
Arizona State lost to Loyola by 18.
And Utah lost to Brigham Young by 11, thereby securing an 0-7 mark for the conference against BYU in football and basketball during the 2021-22 sports season.
But December has arrived, bringing a full load of league games this week and a respite from the rigors of facing Winthrop and Eastern Washington.
1. UCLA (6-1)
Last week: 1
Result: beat UNLV 73-51
Next up: vs. Colorado (Wednesday)
Comment: Loads of attention will soon turn to the duel with North Carolina in the middle of the month. But before that, the Bruins have two conference games and a difficult trip to Marquette, which has beaten Illinois.
2. USC (6-0)
Last week: 3
Results: beat St. Joseph’s 70-55 and San Diego State 58-43
Next up: vs. Utah (Wednesday)
Comment: So much for being a basketball school.
3. Arizona (6-0)
Last week: 2
Result: beat Sacramento State 105-59
Next up: vs. Washington (Thursday)
Comment: The Wildcats’ perfect start has caused expectations to soar for Year One under Tommy Lloyd. Which is fine, as long as the roster is prepared to handle them.
4. Colorado (6-1/1-0)
Last week: 7
Result: beat Stanford 80-76
Next up: at UCLA (Wednesday)
Comment: The Buffs had five players in double figures for the conference opener against Stanford, but it’s really six because Elijah Parquet’s contributions on defense are always akin to a double-digit scoring game.
5. Washington State (5-1)
Last week: 4
Result: lost to Eastern Washington 76-71
Next up: at ASU (Wednesday)
Comment: Just when we thought the Cougars were beyond the bad losses, along comes 30% shooting and a collapse against Eastern Washington. (WSU was outscored by 17 in the second half. Yikes.)
6. Utah (5-1)
Last week: 5
Result: lost to BYU 75-64
Next up: at USC (Wednesday)
Comment: How good are the Utes? Their home date Sunday against Cal might be more revealing than the conference opener at USC. When playing at home, top-tier teams should handle bottom-tier teams.
7. Oregon (4-3)
Last week: 6
Results: lost to Houston 78-49, beat Montana 87-47
Next up: vs. UC Riverside (Wednesday)
Comment: The Ducks aren’t stuck so deep in the muck that they cannot recover in time to salvage an NCAA at-large bid. But you can see too deep from here. They need a trajectory change, fast.
8. Arizona State (2-5)
Last week: 8
Results: lost to Baylor 75-63, Syracuse 92-84 and Loyola (Chicago) 77-59
Next up: vs. Washington State (Wednesday)
Comment: Such is the state of play at the bottom of the conference that we didn’t find occasion to drop a team that went 0-3 for the week.
9. Stanford (4-3/0-1)
Last week: 9
Result: lost at Colorado 80-76
Next up: vs. Oregon (Dec. 12)
Comment: Best win thus far is against Valparaiso, unless it’s against San Jose State. Either way, the Cardinal has yet to record a victory worth recording.
10. Cal (3-4)
Last week: 12
Result: beat Fresno State 75-67
Next up: vs. Oregon State (Thursday)
Comment: Combine the win over Fresno State with a close loss to Seton Hall, and the Bears are halfway to semi-competent. Progress is progress.
11. Washington (4-4)
Last week: 10
Results: lost to Nevada 81-62 and Winthrop 82-74
Next up: at Arizona (Thursday)
Comment: First comes Arizona, then comes UCLA, then Gonzaga — all in a 10-day stretch straight out of the Inferno. If the Huskies are within 15 points at the buzzer in any of them, we’ll be surprised.
12. Oregon State (1-6)
Last week: 11
Results: lost to Wake Forest 80-77 and Penn State 60-45
Next up: at Cal (Thursday)
Comment: We see you working the system, Beavers, saving up all your energy for four days in March at T-Mobile Arena. Smart. Very smart.