Its no secret that the Pac-12 is weak in basketball this year. Not many teams look like they can compete on the big stage. So far, though, three teams have stood out above the rest as far as talent and potential.
Here are the three teams that look to be a head above the rest in the conference so far, and if all goes as planned, should make it to the Big Dance at the end of March.
The Cardinal has looked the best of any team in the conference thus far, perhaps looking its best in a three-day span where the team beat Oklahoma State by 15 and narrowly lost to a Syracuse team who is now the top-ranked team in the country. The Cardinal provides a balanced offensive attack, and are led by forward Josh Owens (Sr.), guard Chasson Randle (Fr.) and guard Aaron Bright (So.).
If this leading trio can continue to play well, Stanford looks like the premier team of the conference and seem to be the early favorites to win the Pac-12 Tournament in March, and receive the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
This may be the surprise pick of the bunch here, but it shouldn't be. It is no secret that UW has just as much, if not more, talent and athleticism as any other team in the entire conference. They have been so good at times with multiple blowouts and close losses against Duke and Marquette. But they have been awful at other times. Blown out by South Dakota State, really?
Freshman Tony Wroten is the most talented player of the bunch, and is just starting to come into his own with the other Huskies. The chemistry of this team will improve each day, and that will lead to a strong conference season. It should be enough to get them to the tourney.
Oregon State (10-2)
If you have not seen Oregon State play this season, make it a point to do so the next chance you get. This team is young, inspired, athletic and talented, and they are among the NCAA leaders in many offensive and defensive categories. A strong conference season is needed to make it to the Big Dance, however, because the Beavers only played 2 teams from the "Power 6" conferences during the non-conference portion of the season.
There does not appear to be much stopping them from having that great conference season that they need. They have looked dominant at times and also had a win over Texas that might go a long way, come selection Sunday.
Other Teams Who Could Make Some Noise
Arizona (9-4): In the mold of Washington, U of A has tons of talent but have yet to put it together. They should get better as the chemistry grows, but will it be enough come season's end?
California (10-3): This team would have found itself in the group above, but they have not looked competitive in big games against Missouri and UNLV. That being said, Allen Crabbe and Jorge Gutierrez are a talented duo and could take the team deeper into March.
Oregon (9-3): The loss of prized freshman Jabari Brown hurt the Ducks right after it happened, but the team appears to be better for it now and the chemistry has looked on point in recent games.