Ranking the Pac-10: Basketball Edition


2009 was a down year for the Pac-10, and the conference doesn’t seem as bad as last year. However, the Pac-10 isn’t one of the top conferences in the country by any means. In fact, Jeff Sagarin ranks the Pac as the seventh best conference overall behind the likes of the ACC and Mountain West.

1. Washington (12-4, 4-0)

Even without Abdul Gaddy, the Huskies appear to be the class of the conference by far. Isiah Thomas and Venoy Overton are quick guards that have the experience to break anyone down, and Terrence Ross has added a spark off of the bench. In the paint, Matthew Bryan-Amaning has emerged from the shadows now that Quincy Pondexter is gone.

2. Arizona (14-3, 3-1)

The Wildcats have a ton of talent, albeit young talent. Derrick Williams is a serious candidate for Pac-10 Player of the Year. They rank 18th in the country in field goal percentage, and have been using hot shooting to carry them. Sean Miller’s team has been incredible at home, but their road record is slightly suspect. Can they travel to Washington and Los Angeles?

3. USC (10-6, 2-1)

With Jio Fontan on the squad, the Trojans seem to have a whole new energy. Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic inside to combine for perhaps the best front court. Their defense has stifled opponents, especially Marcus Simmons (who has held top scorers way below their average).

4. Stanford (9-5, 2-1)

The Cardinal whooped rival Cal on opening weekend and managed a split in Arizona. Johnny Dawkins’ squad is rather young, but they have strung together a solid three games to begin conference play. Their inexperience may start to hurt them.

5. UCLA (9-6, 1-2)

Ben Howland’s seat may be heating up. After splitting with the Washington schools, the Bruins traveled to Galen Center and lost to their cross-town rival for the fourth straight time. Against USC, they looked sloppy and had trouble scoring inside and out.

6. Washington State (12-4, 2-2)

After a blistering start to the season, the Cougars have struggled a bit in conference play. Although the swept the Oregon schools, they failed to hold their own against USC and UCLA. Ken Bone’s squad needs to show they can hang with the conference’s elite. They can make a statement by sweeping the northern California schools.

7. California (8-7, 1-2)

Despite winning the Pac-10 last year, the Bears are off to a rough start. Mike Montgomery’s team lost too many players in the offseason not to lose a step. The guard play is suspect and they are very young inside. Jorge Gutierrez, the best player on the team, is a lock down defender, but he isn’t the kind of player that can take a game over on offense.

8. Oregon State (7-8, 2-2)

The Beavers seem to have Arizona’s number. Surprisingly, Oregon State is 2-2 after sweeping the Arizona schools on opening weekend. We will find out how good they are this weekend when they face the Los Angeles schools. Perhaps the Beavers have made an appreciable improvement under Barack Obama’s brother-in-law.

9. Arizona State (8-7, 1-3)

The Sun Devils are off to a bad start, largely the product of losing so many players to graduation and the NBA. Herb Sendek is a solid coach, but he hasn’t been able to keep up with the rest of the conference this year. The worst part for ASU: they are 1-3 and have not played against the Washington or Los Angeles schools yet.

10. Oregon (7-9, 0-4)

The Ducks have lost six games in a row and have not put up a huge fight thus far. Dana Altman is hoping to turn things around, but the prospects look bleak for the 2010-2011 campaign. Their best chance for a win might have been against Arizona State, but they weren’t able to come out on the right end. Football season can’t come soon enough.