Conference play is heating up and we’ve had Oregon State upsetting UCLA, Stanford reigning supreme and Utah staying undefeated. Here is where every team in the Pac-12 stands at the start of 2023:
1) No. 2 Stanford Cardinal (15-1, 3-0)
Stanford is as good as advertised. They’ve won ten in a row, are undefeated in the Pac-12 and all their key players are performing well. Their next big test will be against No. 12 UCLA next week, but so far Stanford has proven to be head and shoulders above the rest.
2) No. 8 Utah Utes (14-0, 3-0)
If Stanford is as good as advertised, the Utah Utes are better than advertised. They are undefeated and Alissa Pili has been sensational, leading the team in points and rebounds. Gianna Kneepkens has hit her stride, averaging 14.1 points a night on 25.5 minutes, and with four players scoring double digits in points, Utah is as strong as any team in the country. They are still flying under the radar, but that will undoubtedly change if they win their mid-January matchups against No. 15 Arizona and No. 2 Stanford.
3) No. 12 UCLA Bruins (13-2, 2-1)
Will the real Bruins please stand up? Are they the team beat No. 17 Oregon a week ago and went toe-to-toe with South Carolina earlier this season, or are they the team that just lost to Oregon State 77-72? We’ll know soon enough with a rematch against USC this week and a game against Stanford next week.
4) No. 15 Arizona Wildcats (12-2, 2-1)
Their recent loss to Stanford might have you down on the Wildcats, but they still have the trio of Shaina Pellington, Jade Loville and Cate Reese. I wouldn’t count them out yet and with games against No. 18 Oregon and No. 8 Utah coming up, they’ll have plenty of chances to rise up the AP rankings.
5) No. 18 Oregon Ducks (11-3, 2-1)
Oregon has been tested heavily over the past two weeks. They’ve played three Top 25 teams and beat a respectable USC team. Ranked at No. 18 seems appropriate for the Ducks and with just one tough matchup coming up against No. 15 Arizona, they should be able to rack up some wins this month.
6) Colorado Buffaloes (12-3, 2-1)
Not a ranked team but the best of the rest, the Colorado Buffaloes have started 2-1 in the conference, losing to just Utah, but they did lose in blowout fashion. Quay Miller will have to continue leading the charge. She’s averaging 14.2 points and 7.7 rebounds a game leading the Buffaloes in both categories.
7) USC Trojans (11-3, 1-2)
Are the Women of Troy back? A valiant effort against UCLA and a solid win against Oregon State certainly show signs of promise for USC. Still, they’ll need to win the rematch against the Bruins this week if they want to prove they are legit contenders to finish Top 5 in the conference.
8) California Golden Bears (10-4, 1-2)
Cal is struggling in the Pac-12. They are 1-2 and three of their next four games are against ranked opponents. The silver lining? Watching Jadya Curry score as much as possible. She leads the team in points and stood out against Stanford, scoring 20 in the loss. I’m not sure how many wins the Golden Bears will have this year but watching Curry play sure is fun.
9) Washington Huskies (9-4, 1-2)
These are tough times for the Huskies. They’ve lost back-to-back games and with the Pac-12 being as stacked as it is, there won’t be many winnable games coming up. One winnable game is their matchup against Washington State on Sunday. If they can’t win that game, January may get ugly fast.
10) Oregon State Beavers (9-5, 1-2)
The Beavers shocked the college basketball world by beating UCLA last weekend. Can they pull off another upset against Arizona on Friday? If they do, Talia Von Oelhoffen will be a big reason why. She’s averaging 16.6 points per game and even when she’s having an off night as she had against the Bruins, she finds a way to be a factor.
11) Washington State Cougars (10-4, 0-3)
Still winless in the conference, things are looking rough for the Cougars. Charlisse Leger-Walker is having a stellar season, but she’ll need her fellow guards Tara Wallack and Johanna Teder to lighten the scoring load and center Bella Murekatete to be dominant on the glass.
12) Arizona State Sun Devils (7-7, 0-3)
The Sun Devils have been at the bottom of these rankings all season. Unfortunately not much hope for Arizona State this year. Tyi Skinner has been a bucket but other than that, it’s been six losses in seven games and each loss by double digits.
What is arguably the best conference in America has plenty of marquee matchups this week. Two games I’d be sure not to miss are UCLA vs. USC and Oregon vs. Arizona. These games are sure to be competitive and the winners will undoubtedly move up in the rankings. It may still be early in the Pac-12 season, but a lot is already at stake.