Pac-12 WBB power ratings: Colorado holds the top spot as Stanford climbs, USC drops

Pac-12 WBB power ratings: Colorado holds the top spot as Stanford climbs, USC drops

Projected by ESPN to land three of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, the Pac-12 approaches the midway point of the conference season on a national high.

UCLA, Colorado and Stanford are all slotted for the top line, along with South Carolina, in the latest Bracketology after a week in which two of those teams (UCLA and Colorado) suffered losses. That resiliency reflects the Pac-12’s strength at the top, where USC and Utah are projected as NCAA No. 3 seeds.

The top 16 seeds host first- and second-round games in the NCAA Tournament.

Here are the Hotline’s fourth weekly power ratings of the season, with half of the teams in a new position.

(NET rankings through Monday)

1. Colorado (16-2/6-1)

Last week: 1
Results: lost to UCLA 76-68, beat USC 63-59
Next up: at Oregon State (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 17
Comment: The Buffaloes hold onto the Hotline’s top spot for a second straight week, despite losing to UCLA, because of the victory over USC and the Bruins’ loss to Utah. Colorado also has a head-to-head win over Stanford in its favor when evaluating the Pac-12’s co-leaders. Quay Miller came up big against USC with 19 points and 12 rebounds, her fourth double-double in the last five games. Kindyll Wetta drew praise for her defense against star JuJu Watkins.

2. Stanford (17-2/6-1)

Last week: 4
Results: beat Oregon 88-63 and Oregon State 65-56
Next up: at Arizona State (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 4
Comment: As great as last week was for Tara VanDerveer, now the winningest coach in college basketball history, and for Pac-12 Player of the Week Kiki Iriafen, Stanford also was left with some concern about Cameron Brink’s knee injury suffered in the first quarter against Oregon. The 6-foot-4 forward will be back as soon as Friday but maybe a bit later if a cautious approach prevails.

3. UCLA (15-2/4-2)

Last week: 3
Results: won at Colorado 76-68, lost at Utah 94-81 (OT)
Next up: vs. Washington (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 7
Comment: Lauren Betts couldn’t have asked for a much better start to last weekend, returning to her home state (Colorado) for a 20-point, 13-rebound performance before friends and family. ”I’m so proud of our team. They know how bad I personally wanted to win this game,” Betts said. Monday was a different story as Betts scored in single digits in 26 minutes in Salt Lake City.

4. Utah (14-5/4-3)

Last week: 5
Results: beat USC 78-58 and UCLA 94-81 (OT)
Next up: at Oregon (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 5
Comment: It’s a bit crazy to think that Utah would win twice over teams ranked No. 6 and 2 at the time and still climb just one place in Hotline rankings. The Utes went a combined 23-of-59 from 3-point range and overcame a low-scoring night from Alissa Pili to beat UCLA. Isabel Palmer returned from injury to play for the first time since Nov. 14.

5. USC (13-3/3-3)

Last week: 2
Results: lost at Utah 78-58 and Colorado 63-59
Next up: vs. Washington State (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 15
Comment: Are the 11th-ranked Trojans overly reliant on Watkins, who has been named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week 10 times and is second nationally in scoring (26.1 ppg)? It’s a legitimate question after she scored 46 points combined last week despite fouling out with 5:50 left against Colorado, yet USC failed to reach 60 points in either game. Forward Rayah Marshall had just two points combined on 1-of-6 shooting and needs to be a bigger factor.

6. Oregon State (15-3/4-3)

Last week: 6
Results: won at Cal 71-64, lost at Stanford 65-56
Next up: vs. Colorado (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 22
Comment: Despite the weekend split in the Bay Area, Oregon State broke into the AP poll at No. 25, giving the Pac-12 six ranked teams. The Beavers are in the top 25 for the first time since December 2021. They played well against Stanford in VanDerveer’s record-setting game, and their other losses also were on the road (UCLA and USC). Oregon State is projected as a No. 6 seed in the NCAAs, down one from last week.

7. Washington State (14-5/3-3)

Last week: 7
Results: beat ASU 79-64 and Arizona 78-57
Next up: at USC (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 21
Comment: The Cougars quietly went 2-0 last week, at least compared to the hoopla surrounding VanDerveer’s milestone and Utah’s sweep. ESPN is projecting Washington State as a No. 7 NCAA seed (up one this week), and that climb could continue with any success in Los Angeles. Against Arizona, the Cougars led by three at halftime, then pulled away for a 21-point win — their largest over the Wildcats since 2016.

8. Cal (13-6/3-4)

Last week: 11
Results: lost to Oregon State 71-64, beat Oregon 66-57
Next up: at Arizona (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 53
Comment: The Bears jumped three spots in the Hotline ratings, gaining back most of last week’s plunge. They are also on ESPN’s NCAA bracketology bubble, along with Washington, as one of the first four teams out. Ioanna Krimili scored 44 points combined last week. The Bears led by seven against Oregon State through three quarters, only to be outscored by 14 in the fourth. They reversed that trajectory against Oregon with a 19-9 rally in the fourth.

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9. Washington (12-5/2-4)

Last week: 9
Results: beat Arizona 62-60, lost to ASU 73-65
Next up: at UCLA (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 42
Comment: Lauren Schwartz made the game-winning basket with 2.3 seconds left against Arizona, but the Huskies couldn’t complete the weekend as they fell to previously winless (in conference play) ASU. That loss could prove costly for the postseason considering Washington’s next five games are against the Pac-12’s highest-ranked teams.

10. Arizona (10-9/2-5)

Last week: 8
Results: lost at Washington 62-60 and WSU 78-57
Next up: vs. Cal (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 44
Comment: After three consecutive road losses by a combined seven points, it’s perhaps not surprising that Arizona ran out of energy in the second half at Washington State. The Wildcats are trying to navigate the deepest conference in the nation with eight healthy players, which doesn’t allow for much margin for error. Being at home this week — they are 6-2 in Tucson — should help.

11. Oregon (11-9/2-5)

Last week: 10
Results: lost at Stanford 88-63 and Cal 66-57
Next up: vs. Utah (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 91
Comment: The Ducks went 0-2, blunting the momentum from a 2-0 record the preceding week (against the Arizona schools). Grace VanSlooten was limited to a combined 18 points on 7-of-23 shooting. Oregon trailed 20-0 at the outset against Stanford before a 13-0 run that overlapped with Brink’s injury.

12. Arizona State (9-10/1-6)

Last week: 12
Results: lost at WSU, won at Washington 73-65
Next up: vs. Stanford (Friday)
NET ranking: No. 117
Comment: Jalyn Brown is averaging 24.2 points over ASU’s last five games, including 34 in the school’s first Pac-12 win. The Louisville transfer has played all but 4:15 over those games as Natasha Adair goes with a tight rotation that gives the Sun Devils their best chance. ASU now has one more win than in Adair’s first season.

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