Pac-10 Hoops Power Rankings

January 15, 2009

#1 UCLA (13-2, 3-0)

This squad has proven to be the class of the conference thus far, especially after securing a tough road victory against 'SC on Sunday night. Jrue Holiday has been as good as advertised, Josh Shipp has rediscovered his versatile floor game, and Darren Collison has played the way everyone thought he would last year. In other words, Collison has been a pest on defense, and an aggressive, creative force on offense.

But the real difference with this squad has been the improvement of two reserves -- Nikola Dragovic and Michael Roll. Both players have given the Bruins some extra outside shooting punch, and have provided Coach Howland with good size on defense. In Roll, the Bruins have a guy who can play at the 2 or the 3, while Dragovic can play at the 4 or 5, should Howland elect to go small.

When the rest of the Bruins' freshmen class starts to develop, lookout.

#2 Cal (15-2, 4-0)

Hard to argue with a 4-0 start in conference. The secret to Cal's success can be traced to two sources: 1) great guard play from both Jerome Randle and Pac-10 Player of the Week, Patrick Christopher, and 2) the coaching of Mike Montgomery.

The Bears' have put the whole conference on notice after sweeping the Arizona schools at home, and then defeating both Washington schools on the road.

The Bears' true test looms January 29th, when they face UCLA at Pauley Pavilion. That game should reveal whether Cal really is ready to contend for the conference crown.

#3 Arizona State (14-2, 3-1)

The Sun Devils' only conference loss was on the road to the surprising Cal Bears. As expected, star guard James Harden has led the way this year with his 23.1 PPG average and overall impressive play.

ASU has a tough schedule over the next three days, as they will face both LA schools on the road. The trip should serve as an accurate barometer of the Sun Devils' place in the Pac-10 pecking order.

#4 Arizona (11-5, 2-2)

After two ugly, blowout road losses to Stanford and Cal, the 'Cats redeemed themselves somewhat by sweeping the Oregon schools at home.

Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, and the rest of the crew can play with anybody, as seen by their victories this year over Kansas and Gonzaga. On the other hand, they also can look like the conference doormat. Consistency will be an issue for this team all year.

#5 USC (10-5, 1-2)

This team is still learning how to win the close ones, as they have lost by four points or less to UCLA, Oregon State, Oklahoma, and Seton Hall.

Still, there is reason to be optimistic. Highly-touted frosh DeMar DeRozan continues to improve each day, while returnees Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett can match up with anybody in the conference at their respective positions.

'SC will need to defend their home court this weekend against the Arizona schools if they have any realistic hope of winning the conference title.

#6 Washington(11-4, 2-1)

Last week's triple-OT loss to Cal was pure heartbreak for the Huskies. Despite that loss, Washington should be in the hunt all year due to the inside-outside combo of John Brockman and Isaiah Thomas. Just a freshmen, Thomas has surpassed everyone's expectations, as he is averaging nearly 16 PPG while running the point.

Up next for the Huskies, the Pac-10's easiest road trip: the Oregon schools.

#7 Washington State (9-6, 1-2)

This team has struggled somewhat due to a tough non-conference schedule, and the addition of many new faces to the roster. However, in picking up their first conference win at home against Stanford, this team might have made a breakthrough. At the very least, that victory provided WSU with a little momentum heading into their upcoming Oregon trip.

#8 Stanford (11-3, 1-3)

A relatively easy non-conference schedule raised some questions as to just how truly strong this team might be. Now that conference play has started we know a little more: this team can compete with anybody.

Outside of one blowout loss to ASU, Stanford has been competitive with their other three Pac-10 opponents. Most impressive was their double-digit victory at home over Arizona. Swingman Anthony Goods has led the way with his 17 PPG average. With their next three games at home, the Cardinal may be able to climb back into the conference race.

#9 Oregon State (6-8, 1-3)

There is a big dropoff from #8 to #9, as OSU figures to suffer a few blowout losses this year in conference play. Nevertheless, the Beavers home win against 'SC was huge for this rebuilding program, as the Oregon State fans gleefully chanted, "Just like football!"

Coach Craig Robinson already has OSU ahead of their projected curve just 4 games into league play.

#10 Oregon (6-10, 0-4)

The Ducks have struggled thus far due to a freshmen-laden roster that is learning on the job. To make matters worse, LSU transfer Ben Voogd, a backup point guard, has recently decided to leave the team. Unfortunately for Oregon, things are going to get worse before they improve.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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