- The #1 team in the country, Arizona, has been as good as advertised. With a nice balance between an efficient offense and one of the top defenses in the country (.85 points allowed per possession) make them an anomaly in the Pac-12. While not particularly deep, there is enough talent to make some noise come March.
- Steve Alford’s first season at UCLA has to be considered a success, with the Bruins at 17-4 and 6-2 in the Pac-12. Alford saw his personnel and has the Bruins pushing the pace to take advantage of it. The Bruins are tops in the Pac-12 in scoring with 1.15 points per possession.
- Herb Sendek has done a good job molding his Arizona State team around his best player, Jahii Carson, and the results have been good so far. The Sun Devils have the 2nd best defense in the Pac-12 right now, and though the offense has struggled at times, Sendek has built a mentality in his players to battle through.
- Utah is starting to stock their team with Pac-12 quality players and the results have been better than expected so early. With 3 Pac-12 wins already, the Utes should pass last year’s five-win season easily.
- There’s not much else you can say about Oregon that hasn’t been said already. Dana Altman’s squad is in a free-fall right now, sitting at 2-6 in the Pac-12, and with no real signs of recovering. The problems are mainly on the defensive end, as the Ducks have the 2nd best offense in the conference, but are in the bottom 3rd on defense.
- With a veteran team, this was supposed to be the year Stanford made some noise, but the Cardinal are underachieving again under Johnny Dawkins. The middle of the Pac-12 is still wide-open, so the Cardinal will have a chance to redeem themselves in February.
- You almost feel bad putting Washington State on this list, but the offense and personnel is just not good enough for a major conference. It’s a tough job for a coach, but it may be out of Ken Bone’s hands at the end of the year.
- Oregon State is not very well-coached, but they do have one of the Pac-12’s best players in Roberto Nelson, one of the nation’s top scorers. Nelson is also splitting time at the point guard position and though the results have been mixed, it may have more to do with the offense than Nelson.
- Washington’s CJ Wilcox is one of the conference’s best NBA prospects. A smooth-shooting guard, Wilcox is a good combination of size and skill that makes him tough to guard.
- I mentioned Arizona State’s Jahii Carson earlier. A lightning-quick point guard who can get into the lane almost at will and with a knack for finding ways to score among much bigger players.
- Kyle Anderson, UCLA’s 6’8 point guard is nicknamed “Slo-Mo” for a reason. He moves like he is stuck in neutral, but he may be one of the most skilled point guards in the country right now. Anderson is averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists per game, and is a triple-double threat on many nights.
- Arizona’s Nick Johnson may be one of the most underappreciated players in America right now, but his ability to take over in clutch situations on offense and defense makes him the most important player on the best team in the country.
NCAA Tournament teams?
Arizona is really just battling for as high a seed as possible at this point, and UCLA seems safely in. Arizona State is trending in the right directions, as is Washington. Colorado will likely lose out after a knee injury put Spencer Dinwiddie out for the year. California has the personnel to lock up bid #5, but that may be it for the Pac-12 this year.