Husky Haul Power Rankings for 1st Week of December


I’ve delayed my 2nd Power Rankings for the college basketball season until the teams were able to get a few more games under their belt. I certainly has been an interesting first month of the season. At this stage, it is hard to tell where everyone stands because of widely varying strength of schedules and some weird events such as Jabari Brown quitting at Oregon and the whole Reeves Nelson saga at UCLA. But, what we have seen is that a couple of teams have really gotten off to nice starts and Utah is as bad as everyone expected. While the RPI is not a very good metric this early in the season (St. Mary’s is #1 at just 2-1 and Denver is #3 at 5-1), because a single loss can change your (and your opponents) winning percentage by a large amount, the Pac-12 is not off to a fast start being ranked the #10 conference in the country right now (behind the WCC, MWC, and Missouri Valley), despite the #4 strength of schedule among conferences.

1) California (6-1, RPI 51, SOS 98): I ragged on all those prognosticators who said California would win the conference. But, they are winning their games against decent competition. They certainly have the talent in their starting five to win the conference, but it is a long season and I still think their bench is suspect when the inevitable injuries/foul troubles force Mike Montgomery to go a little deeper into the rotation.

2) Arizona (6-2, RPI 15, SOS 11): Many of us reveled in joy at their loss to Seattle Pacific and close call against Humbolt State, but Arizona has played a murderous schedule so far and they are winning most of them. While they’re win over Northern Arizona last night was not the most impressive, and they have personel and chemistry problems, they certainly have the talent to win the conference and it’ll be interesting to see if they can get their chemistry together.

3) Stanford (7-1, RPI 44, SOS 124): Stanford was picked by most, including me, to finish right in the middle of the conference and maybe be an NIT team. They have played a very weak schedule so far, but wins are wins. I am not ready to crown them at the top of the conference like Percy has at the Seattle Times this week. But, they deserve to be taken seriously for the time being.

4) Oregon State (5-1, RPI 45, SOS 77): It’s nice for the conference that Oregon State is winning its early games after the disaster the Beavers have been the last two years in the non-conference (Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Seattle U, really?). I am not sure this team is for real quite yet, but Cunningham does appear to be the real deal, and I did predict they would finish in the middle of the conference and have a shot at the NIT. I still believe that.

5) Washington (4-2, RPI 86, SOS 118): The Huskies are hard to evaluate right now.  They looked aweful at Nevada and lost a game they had in their hands. They apparently (I didn’t get to see it) even worse in Saint Louis. Does #5 seem a bit high based on those two games? Yeah, but look who is below them. None of those teams have played any better! But, with their games seemingly only once a week, it’s hard to see any consistency. This week in Madison Square Garden will be the key. Will they suffer two blowout losses? Or will the return of Scott Suggs and the bright lights finally get this team to play up to the level of their competition.

6. Oregon (4-2, RPI 41, SOS 111): I am not sure what is happening in Eugene with first Brown and now Baron quitting the team. But, they’ve been winning games, which helps the entire conference’s RPI. They were predicted by many to finish 4-5th in the conference and have a shot at the NCAA tournament as a high seed. At this point, it appears that prediction is still about right.

7) Colorado (4-3, RPI 109, SOS 84): Many people predicted the Buffaloes would finish near the bottom of the conference, but there was something I saw in them that I thought they could be competitive and finish in the middle of the conference. I am not sure where they stand at this point, but it would be nice if they could win a few more games in the non-conference.

8) USC (4-4, RPI 200, SOS 222): They have played a very weak schedule (2nd weakest in the conference so far), but I did not think they would even be good enough to be .500 at this point of the season. So, good for them and the conference. I doubt it’ll last come the conference season though.

9) Washington State (4-4, RPI 237, SOS 237): They’ve played the worst schedule in the conference so far and are still .500. Ken Bone realized there would be a challenge in Pullman this year and scheduled accordingly. It’s going to be a long season in Pullman for the Cougs and they are already sorely missing Klay and Casto. For for Que Johnson and Richard Peters…Hope they realize what they are getting into. They don’t…They probably figure it’s all because the team is without them and they will be the saviors.

10) UCLA (2-5, RPI 240, SOS 76): It is fashionable to put UCLA at #11 or last right now because they have so underperformed their expectations so far. But, it is short-sighted to think this team will continue to be this bad. They simply have too much talent and I suspect they will improve greatly when they start the conference season. Unfortunately for the conference, don’t be surprised to see this team with a horrible record suddenly find itself in the middle or near the top of the conference in February, hurting everyone’s RPI.

11) Arizona State (3-4, RPI 253, SOS 178): It’s tough times in Tempe. Not only is the team devoid of talent, but their best potential player (Jahii Carson) can’t even get eligible. It’ll be a long season for the Sun Devils.

12) Utah (1-6, RPI 301, SOS 178): Welcome to the Pac-12. Not only do they have virtually no Division I talent on scholarship currently, but they have an RPI in the range of SWAC teams. They have played a weak schedule and they still haven’t beaten a Division I team yet. They may not all season. They may also be the first Pac 10/12 team since Oregon State to go winless in the conference.