There’s no reason to panic after two early losses, but in the early going the Ducks must at least be dropped from the top spot in the power rankings after a 1-2 week. So, who takes the top spot?
1. UCLA (4-0) Last Week #3
I’ll be the first to admit defeat when it comes to my early season ranking for UCLA. The Bruins have been dominant in their four wins as they lead the nation in scoring at 105.8 points per game. The freshman combination of TJ Leaf and Lonzo Ball is perhaps the best in the nation as they average 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 13 assists per game. December 3rd will be the true test to see how good they are as they play Kentucky.
2. Arizona (4-0) Last week: #2
Still not entirely sold on the Wildcats, but to their credit they’ve yet to lose a game. Something seems fishy about the Allonzo Trier situation, is he injured or is he even eligible? In the meantime, the freshman from Finland, Lauri Markkanen leads the way with his 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
3. Oregon (2-2) Last week: #1
Probably an overreaction to drop the Ducks all the way to three after a couple of losses. After all, let’s compare the Georgetown and Baylor losses to the much worse losses of Boise State and UNLV last year. Dillon Brooks will clearly make a difference for this team and I can’t wait for him to be fully cleared. In the meantime, someone needs to page Tyler Dorsey and let him know the season has started before Payton Pritchard pushes him out of the way.
4. California (2-1) Last week #4
Definitely contemplated dropping the Golden Bears after their loss to San Diego State last night but I decided to keep them still. I guess the big surprise about this loss was that it came in the return of Ivan Rabb who did his part with the 19 points and 11 rebounds. I’m starting to slide this team to the middle of the pack and out of any title contention.
5. Colorado (3-1) Last week #5
Colorado started off the week looking very poor against Seattle U in the victory but they did rebound nicely with the narrow defeat against Notre Dame. They have four scorers putting up over ten points per game and will be a tough matchup at home, but I don’t see them putting up a fight much on the road.
6. USC (3-0) Last week #6
The Trojans got a really nice win on the road this week over Texas A&M. They seem to be starting to piece things together as they have four players scoring over ten points per game and then another two scoring nine points per game. They shouldn’t have much a problem running through the rest of their non-conference slate.
7. Utah (3-0) Last week #8
The Utes have gone the all cupcake route to victories in their first three games. They’ll finally get a test next week when they take on Butler. Kyle Kuzma has definitely taken the reigns for this team, averaging 14.7 points and 12 rebounds per contest.
8. Stanford (4-0) Last week #9
The Cardinal non-conference schedule gets difficult very quickly, but in the meantime they’ve taken care of business to a 4-0 record. Junior Reid Travis has ben one of the most improved players early on with his 19 point and 10.5 rebound average per game.
9. Washington (2-1) Last week #10
They rebounded nicely after the upset loss to Yale to win two games this week. There’s no doubt that this team will be able to score, but defense is the major question. Markelle Fultz leads the team in points, rebounds and assists.
10. Oregon State (2-0) Last week #7
Not a good week for the Beavers as they drop a home game to Lamar and then on the road to Nevada. Turnovers have killed this team as they average about 21 per game.
11. Arizona State (3-2) Last week #11
The Sun Devils were downed twice this week, first with a blowout loss to Northern Iowa and then a close loss to Davidson. Their defense is a major problem as they give up 73 points per game.
12. Washington State (1-0) Last week #12
The Cougs dropped two games this week to Creighton and Loyola. Washington State is scoring better than I expected but are yet another team with major defensive problems.
Key games of the week.
Tuesday 11/22. Oregon vs. Tennessee, Colorado vs. Texas, Long Beach State at Washington
Thursday 11/24. Miami (FL) vs. Stanford
Monday 11/28. Butler vs. Utah