In the middle of a program rebuild, one would think the University of Washington basketball team would ease into conference play.
No such luck.
The Huskies (4-4) open Pac-12 play against unbeaten Arizona (6-0), now coached by Tommy Lloyd, the former Gonzaga assistant and supreme recruiter, on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Tucson.
The good news is the UW is one win away from matching last season's demoralizing effort, which finished 5-21.
The bad news is the Huskies, who face Arizona, UCLA and Gonzaga in that order, will be hard-pressed to pick up win No. 5 any time soon.
Still, by showing more signs of basketball life, Mike Hopkins' team has been elevated to a higher slot in the SI Pac-12 basketball power rankings than its had in any rating system in more than year.
The power rankings are as follows:
SI PAC-12 MEN’S BASKETBALL POWER RANKINGS
1. UCLA (6-1), 60 points (5 first-place votes)
2. Arizona (6-0), 55
3. USC (6-0), 50
4. Colorado (6-1, 1-0), 41
5. Oregon (4-3), 40
6. Washington State (5-1), 35
7. Utah (5-1), 24
8. Washington (4-4), 20
9. Arizona State (2-5), 17
10. Stanford (4-3), 17
11. Cal (3-4), 12
12. Oregon State (1-6), 9
DONNIE DRUIN, ALL SUN DEVILS
1. UCLA ; 2. Arizona ; 3. USC; 4. Colorado ; 5. Oregon ; 6. Utah; 7. Washington State; 8. Washington; 9. Arizona State; 10. Cal; 11. Oregon State; 12. Stanford
Comment: Arizona State entered the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament with three straight games against NCAA Tournament teams. The result? Three straight losses. Still plenty of work to be done in Tempe before tournament aspirations are real.
JEFF FARAUDO, CAL SPORTS REPORT
1. UCLA; 2. Arizona; 3. USC ; 4. Colorado; 5. Oregon; 6. Washington State; 7. Utah; 8. Washington; 9. Stanford; 10. Arizona State; 11. Cal; 12. Oregon State
Comment: Oregon may wind up challenging the top three but double-digit losses to BYU, Saint Mary’s and Houston suggest the Ducks have a ways to go. Jury is out on Colorado, WSU and Utah. Cal, after losing twice to Top-25 teams in Florida, returned to beat a ordinary but unbeaten Fresno State squad.
DYLAN REUBENKING, DUCKS DIGEST
1. UCLA; 2. Arizona; 3. USC; 4. Oregon; 5. Colorado; 6. Washington State; 7. Utah; 8. Stanford; 9. Washington; 10. Arizona State; 11. California; 12. Oregon State
Comment: Oregon is coming off of a trip to Las Vegas that should stay in Las Vegas. The Ducks got blasted by three teams that should win games in the NCAA Tournament this spring, but they came home and got a much-needed victory against Montana. Dana Altman's team isn't a Dana Altman team yet, but don't be surprised if the Ducks are competing for another Pac-12 regular season title three months from now.
SAM CONNON, ALL BRUINS
1. UCLA; 2. Arizona; 3. USC; 4. Utah; 5. Colorado; 6. Washington State; 7. Oregon; 8. Stanford; 9. Cal; 10. Washington; 11. Arizona State; 12. Oregon State
Comment: It looks like Pac-12 men’s basketball took some notes from Pac-12 football and decided to have an insanely chaotic week of non-conference play that calls many preseason storylines into question less than a month into the season. UCLA’s loss to Gonzaga looks worse now that the Bulldogs lost to Duke and struggled against Tarleton State, but they’re still in the top tier. If Arizona or USC had a better strength of schedule, they easily could have unseated the Bruins this week.
DAN RALEY, HUSKY MAVEN
1. UCLA; 2. Arizona; 3. USC; 4. Oregon; 5. Washington State; 6. Colorado; 7. Utah; 8. Arizona State; 9. Oregon State; 10. Washington; 11. Stanford; 12. Cal
Comment: It's time to see if the bottom half can beat any of the top half. Washington won't scare anybody, but the Huskies are better than they were last season. A trip to McKale to break in Tommy Lloyd won't go well.
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