Now that all the Pac-10 teams have played multiple conference games, it is becoming more clear on who will be competing for the conference championship and who won't.
Washington looks like the clear front runner but it would be premature to label them as a lock to win the title.
While the Huskies have started Pac-10 play very impressive, Arizona and Washington State have both struggled. Meantime, the two northern California programs look to be better than expected.
Once again, I will rank the schools 1-10 based on their performances along with how well they might do as the conference season goes continues.
On the bright side, I don't think anyone in Eugene is really that interested in Oregon hoops right now. Still, the basketball team is somewhat of an embarrassment to the athletic department, especially after the way they played in their last two games at Mac Court before moving to a new arena.
Oregon got trounced by Arizona at home last Thursday before losing to an unimpressive Arizona State squad who were not even playing their top scorer, Trent Lockett two days later. The Ducks surprisingly played tight at Washington before the Huskies broke the game open and went on to win by 18 points.
To make things worse, Oregon's rival, the Beavers, swept the Arizona schools and appear to be a legit threat in Pac-10 play this season. Once again, Ducks fans probably won't mind their basketball team's mediocre performances as long as the football team wins the national championship. Now if they don't ... it will be an even longer year for the Ducks basketball team.
After setting a Wells Fargo Arena low 41 points in their loss to Stanford on Thursday, the Sun Devils have affirmed themselves as a team incapable of seriously competing in conference play this year and maybe for years to come.
Even with leading scorer Trent Lockett in action, ASU's offense looked completely out of sync as Stanford held them to 23 points in the first half and only 18 points in the second half. Lockett led the Sun Devils in scoring with only 10 points.
Not much was expected from ASU this season but after three straight 20 win seasons, this year is certainly a major disappointment for the program. With nine freshmen, they can only improve over the next few years but it would take a drastic improvement in order for them to be in the Pac-12 title hunt in a year from now.
The only thing that stood in the way of California upsetting Arizona in Tucson on Thursday was maybe the best player in the entire country, Derrick Williams. Williams led the Wildcats to a 73-71 win by having a career game as he scored 31 points while resetting his own school record of free throw attempts (22).
None the less, the Golden Bears impressed me and a lot of other Pac-10 followers with their performance. Arizona got off to a fast start but behind Jorge Gutierrez, Cal actually took a one point lead into halftime. They extended that lead to as high as nine points in the second half before Arizona came back to win.
The biggest news for Cal in the last week was that freshman Gary Franklin will be transferring. Franklin was averaging eight points in 26 minutes for Mike Montgomery's Bears and his departure from the school slows down the rebuilding process in Berkley.
Oregon State jumped from tenth to seventh in my power rankings because of their sweep of the Arizona schools last week. Most people didn't expect the Beavers to beat ASU so when they defeated the Wildcats, they certainly opened a lot of eyes around the country.
Jared Cunnigham was the key in the sweep of the Arizona school, scoring 33 points in the two games while forcing eight steals. Speaking of opening eyes, he did just that with this dunk.
Washington State beat Oregon State on Thursday but the Beavers will no longer be considered an easy victory, even when on the road. Don't be surprised if they win at least seven conference games this year.
Think, just a week ago Washington State looked like the dark horse to win the Pac-10. Then they got swept by the Southern California schools and are now in the bottom half of the conference standings.
Losing to UCLA and USC on the road hurts but it certainly does not ruin the Cougars' chance of a possible post season bid. Klay Thompson will give Derrick Williams a run for his money in the conference player of the year race and is one of the most efficient scorers in the nation.
Thompson's surrounding cast are not terrific but are enough to keep Washington State competitive in conference play this year.
Stanford's win over Cal may not look that impressive but it could give the team a major confidence boost.
The Cardinal didn't look great offensively against Arizona State on Thursday but their defense kept the Sun Devils from ever finding a grove shooting the ball. Both Jeremy Green and Josh Owens are reliable scorers but the team as a whole is not so good at shooting, only making 44% of their attempts.
If Stanford can beat an inconsistent Arizona team, Stanford will start the conference season 3-0 which would be extremely impressive for a school that has a very low amount of scholarship players.
UCLA got a big win over Washington State last week before losing to the conference leading Huskies. The Bruins have had a very up and down season that includes a defeat of BYU but also loses to VCU and Montana.
Their game against rival USC on Sunday will tell a lot for a both schools but especially for UCLA. We know that they have some very talented players in Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt but don't have much depth on their bench.
Ben Howland's squad is still may still be a year or two away from winning the Pac-10 but that doesn't mean UCLA can't get into the NCAA Tournament if they have a good conference season.
Arizona's painful loss to Oregon State last Sunday reminded Arizona fans that the Wildcats are not "back" yet. But as long as Derrick Williams is on the court and not in foul trouble, Arizona is one of the most dangerous teams in the conference.
Under Lute Olson, the Wildcats always had the identity of a point guard school. Whether it was Jason Terry, Gilbert Arenas, Andre Iguodaula, or Jerryd Bayless, the guard position was always Arizona's strong suit.
This year is just the opposite. Williams is the team's top player and the guards have played very inconsistent. In order for Arizona to win the conference, they will need Momo Jones and Kyle Fogg to shoot well each game or else the Cats will have more embarrassing losses to teams like Oregon State.
USC came oh so close to beating Washington last week and proved themselves even more as a team that could win the Pac-10 championship. Nikola Vucevic is averaging a double double and has quickly asserted himself as one of the conference's best players on both offense and defense.
Guard Jio Fontan has also impressed many since returning from an early season injury. These are certainly not the same Trojans that lost to Rider and Bradley and if Fontan had been playing in those games, they very well might have won them.
USC's path to the NCAA Tournament is a little harder than Arizona's because of their poor non conference play but I believe the Trojans are capable of winning 20 games when including the Pac-10 Tourney.
Once again, Washington tops my power rankings for good reason. They come to play every night and are just a few points away from being undefeated.
Isiah Thomas may never become a great NBA player because of his size but he is still a terrific college basketball point guard. He is averaging 16 points along with four and a half assists per game while being an emotional leader for the Huskies.
Washington has set themselves up very nicely for an NCAA Tournament bid. Of course if they win the conference, they will automatically qualify but even if they don't, the Huskies should safely make the Big Dance.
After watching a lot of Pac-10 in-conference games, it is pretty obvious that teams like ASU, Cal, and Oregon are not going to be too competitive while Washington, USC, Arizona, and UCLA all have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament.
The next few weeks will be very important for each team in the conference and by the end of January, we should have a clearer view of who might win the conference as well as how many teams will make the post season.