Pac-12 conference play tips off on Thursday, and with about two months worth of games in the rearview mirror, the league picture has started to form. That picture, if you’re wondering, looks something like this:
Before the games tip off, here’s a look at the worst and the worstest in the Conference of Champions.
12a. Arizona State Sun Devils
Worst loss: vs. Princeton, 67-66
Bobby F***ing Hurley, amirite? The mighty Sun Devils sit atop the Pac-12 thanks to actually good wins against Mississippi State and Kansas. Luguentz Dort is living up to his billing as a five-star freshman, leading ASU in points per game (18.1) and shooting 35 percent from three. As a team, the Sun Devils boast a top-50 defense nationally.
12b. Oregon Ducks
Worst loss: vs. Texas Southern, 89-84
With a few solid wins, including against Syracuse on a neutral court, San Diego at home, and an in-season sweep of Boise State, you could have made a non-stupid argument for the Ducks to take the top spot. Until Thursday when news broke that Bol Bol would likely miss the rest of the year with a foot injury. Bol Bol? More like Boo-Hoo! (Venmo in bio.)
12c. Arizona Wildcats
Worst loss: vs. Baylor, 58-49 (not awful, actually!)
This year figures to be a rare dip for Sean Miller’s team on the heels of the FBI investigation and its fallout. Arizona has a stacked recruiting class coming in, but for now must hold its own in the Conference of Champions with pieces like Brandons Randolph and Williams. Also, remember Chase Jeter? The guy who couldn’t get off the bench at Duke? He’s putting up 13-and-7 in Tucson.
12d. Washington Huskies
Worst loss: Their dignity when they went to play in the Vancouver Showcase
If you want something about the Pac-12 that isn’t more depressing than the Javits Center after they called Florida, direct your attention to Washington, where Jaylen Nowell is putting together an utterly delightful year. He leads his team in points (17.1) and assists (3.2) per game and is shooting 53 percent from the field and 39 percent from three.
12e. Oregon State Beavers
Worst loss: vs. Kent State, 66-63
Tres Tinkle has played the roles of Norbert AND Daggett for the Beavers, and because of that, he could be on his way to Pac-12 Player of the Year honors. By that, of course, I mean he can score (19.8 ppg), rebound (8.7 rpg), assist (4.2 apg), and steal the ball (1.4 spg). As Scott Phillips of NBC Sports points out, Tinkle ranks in the top seven in the Pac-12 in each category.
12f. Colorado Buffaloes
Worst loss: at Hawaii, 70-62 (OT)
Colorado was actually looking okay for a while! Though the Buffaloes went the first month of the season without beating anyone good, they only took one loss in the process and it was to a pretty good San Diego team. Then, the Diamond Head Classic came and they lost games to Indiana State and Hawaii. If you’re wondering what Indiana State is up to these days...
12g. Stanford Cardinal
Worst loss: Reid Travis to Kentucky
Stanford has the honor of being the only team in the Pac-12 to ONLY have losses defined by KenPom as Tier A games. So that’s cool. Unfortunately for the Cardinal, they haven’t done much else of note, but hey — that season-opening win over Seattle is aging well, I guess?
12h. Utah Utes
Worst loss: Having to open Pac-12 play at Arizona and Arizona State
12i. USC Trojans
Worst loss: at Santa Clara, 102-92 (2OT)
To be fair to USC, it has had to deal with some injuries. But the roster that Andy Enfield has available shouldn’t be losing to Santa Clara and should have probably found a way to be, uh, not 7-6. But like Arizona, the Trojans have a great recruiting class coming in next year. Let’s see what they can do.
12j. UCLA Bruins
Worst loss: Their head coach before New Year’s
UCLA basketball is not enjoying its brightest moments. Riding a four-game losing streak that included home embarrassments to Belmont and Liberty, the Bruins have fired head coach Steve Alford and head into January with little-to-no expectations for the remainder of the season. The good news: They get a break from tough competition like the Flames by hosting Stanford and Cal to start league play.
12k. Washington State I wanna say Cougars?
Worst loss: vs. Montana State, 95-90
If you’re a power conference team and you’re playing a sub-300 non-conference schedule, you better be more than a hair above .500. But here we are, and the Cougz have lost six games, all to mid-majors. They are 0-3 vs. the WAC.
12l. California Bears
Worst loss: Hope
The only team in the conference with a losing record, the Bears boast one of the worst defenses in all of college basketball, ranked 320th in KenPom. They played seven games in December and held their opponent under 79 points just once and it was in a three-point win over Cal Poly.