It was clear after the non-conference season that the Pac-12 is much improved this year and after seeing the first week of conference play, it looks like it is likely going to be a very exciting season. We've already got a classic and controversial game between Arizona and Colorado, and a surging UCLA along with a field of teams that looks very balanced, but also experienced, talented and solid.
It will probably be a couple of weeks before we can get a true picture of which teams will compete for the Pac-12 championship and the NCAA Tournament, but there is no doubt that there is some rejuvenation in the conference.
Game of the Week
Arizona 92 Colorado 83 OT
Arguably the two top teams in the conference coming out of non-conference play faced off in what could be the game of the year in the conference on the opening Thursday slate of games. Sabatino Chen's "buzzer beater" at the end of regulation that was ultimately waved off will assuredly be complained about by Colorado fans all year and for good reason as it looked like there is a good chance that he got it off just in time. However, Colorado had a chance to win it in overtime and simply got overwhelmed by the Wildcats who on top of all the late madness, rallied from a 17-point deficit earlier in the game.
The teams meet up again in Boulder on February 14 in what should be one of the most anticipated conference games of the season.
Player of the Week and Freshman Player of the Week
Shabazz Muhammad G-F UCLA
Muhammad is looking more and more like the top NBA Draft pick player that everyone said he was coming out of high school. Muhammad put up 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Bruins win over Stanford on Saturday and scored 16 points and grabbed 6 rebounds against Cal on Thursday. The Bruins will definitely be a force to contend with in the conference if he can keep playing like he did this week and improving.
Arizona State - Many thought that the Sun Devils would be the weakest team in the conference going into the season, but they may have shown that their solid non-conference showing wasn't a fluke as they took care of Utah and Colorado much easier than Arizona did.
Arizona - Sure, getting a sweep is always good, but the Wildcats are supposed to be a Top 5 team right now and yet barely got by Colorado (Whose rep suffered after their loss to ASU) and Utah at home.
Week 1 Power Rankings
1. Arizona 14-0 (2-0) Beat Colorado and Utah - It was as about as shaky a of a 2-0 week as a team can have in the conference as the Wildcats luckily squeaked by Colorado and then one a very tight game against Utah.
2. UCLA 12-3 (2-0) Beat Cal and Stanford - Everyone in the conference is going to have a very tough time contending with Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson if they can keep playing well together.
3. Oregon 12-2 (1-0) Won at Oregon State - It's beginning to look like the Ducks might be back and a win in Corvallis helps that.
4. Arizona State 13-2(2-0) Beat Utah and Colorado - Can Herb Sendek pull out a good season when he absolutely needs it the most?
5. Washington 9-5 (1-0) Won at Washington State - The Huskies yet again need a very strong conference season to bounce back from a frustrating non-conference slate and got off to a good start with a tough win in Pullman.
6. Cal 9-5 (1-1) Won at USC and lost at UCLA - A split in LA is a good way for the Bears to start the season.
7. USC 6-9 (1-1) Beat Stanford and lost to Cal - The Trojans win over Stanford was much needed after a brutal non-conference slate, but can they pull themselves out of the cellar the rest of the way?
8. Colorado 10-4 (0-2) Lost at Arizona and Arizona State - Hopefully the Buffs can bounce back from their controversial and heartbreaking loss to Arizona. Was shocked that they weren't able to win in Tempe.
9. Washington State 9-5 (0-1) Lost to Washington - The Cougars and Ken Bone desperately needed to beat the Huskies in Pullman but fell just short.
10. Oregon State 10-4 (0-1) Lost to Oregon - The Ducks appear to be headed upwards while the Beavers stay near the bottom of the conference.
11. Stanford 9-6 (0-2) Lost at USC and UCLA - A split can be tough to get in LA and the Cardinal almost got the win over the Trojans. However, starting 0-2 in conference starts a hole.
12. Utah 8-6 (0-2) Lost at Arizona State and Arizona - The Utes almost beat Arizona and Jason Washburn looks like he could have a big year. They will sneak up on a couple teams before the season is over.