Arizona Colorado Basketball

Colorado head coach Tad Boyle in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021, in Boulder, Colo. Colorado won 82-79. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Of the 10 players that earned First Team All-Pac-12 honors last season, just one remained in the conference when the 2021-22 season began.

A few transferred, some graduated and moved on to professional careers, but only UCLA’s Tyger Campbell is still in the Pac-12, and he might not even be considered the first or second best player on the Bruins right now.

Needless to say there’s a lot of turnover within the conference leaving this season to be even more wide open than it usually is.

Each team in the Pac-12 will have two conference games coming up over the course of the next two weeks, beginning Sunday, as a way to give fans a little taste of what’s to come in conference play when the nonconference schedules wrap up as the calendar turns from 2021 to 2022.

Here’s a look at where each team in the Pac-12 stands up to this point in the season and what’s to come as the year rolls along:

Arizona

Record: 6-0

Head Coach: Tommy Lloyd (1st season)

Best win so far: 80-62 vs. No. 4 Michigan

Analysis: The Tommy Lloyd era has gotten off to a hot start in Tuscon. After starting the year unranked, the Wildcats are up to No. 17 after a big win over then-No. 4 Michigan in Las Vegas. That win wasn’t a last-second buzzer beater, either. Arizona dominated the Wolverines, holding them to just 1-14 shooting from 3-point range and limiting star center Hunter Dickinson’s impact. The Wildcats currently have four players — Chrisitan Koloko, Benedict Mathurin, Azuloas Tubelis and Kerr Kriisa — averaging more than 10 points per game.

Arizona State

Record: 2-5

Head Coach: Bobby Hurley (6th season)

Best win so far: 72-63 vs. North Florida

Analysis: Arizona State’s early-season trip to the Bahamas did not go well, to say the least. The Sun Devils lost three games to three good teams in Baylor, Syracuse and Loyola Chicago, but it’s still not what Bobby Hurley hoped for after already losing to UC Riverside and San Diego State. An injury to preseason All-Pac-12 selection Marcus Bagley hasn’t helped things.

California

Record: 2-4

Head Coach: Mark Fox (3rd season)

Best win so far: 75-70 vs. San Diego

Analysis: Another team off to a rough start is the Cal Golden Bears. Their preseason tournament in Fort Myers, Fla. began well with a win over San Diego, but they ran into ranked opponents Florida and Seton Hall, and things did not go well. Senior forward Andre Kelly has been the bright spot to this point.

Colorado

Record: 5-1

Head Coach: Tad Boyle (12th season)

Best win so far: 87-76 vs. New Mexico

Analysis: Tad Boyle has an incredibly young group this season and despite the solid record, that youth and lack of experience has shown up often. The Buffs survived close home games against Montana State and New Mexico before losing their first game in the Virgin Islands to Southern Illinois. The Buffs rebounded with good wins over Duquesne and Brown to get back on track heading into Sunday’s Pac-12 opener against Stanford in Boulder. Sophomore point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy has filled the void left behind by McKinley Wright well to start the season, while senior Evan Battey has struggled with foul trouble, but has still managed to come up clutch when CU has needed him most. Watch for sophomores Nique Clifford and Tristan da Silva to continue to emerge as reliable options for Boyle as the Buffs face some tough opponents in December.

Oregon

Record: 3-3

Head Coach: Dana Altman (12th season)

Best win so far: 86-63 vs. SMU

Analysis: The Ducks lost two key players from last year’s team that reached the Sweet 16, but still have one of the more experienced groups in the Pac-12. Dana Altman’s team has struggled so far this season, finishing fourth at the Maui Invitational (held in Las Vegas) after losses to Saint Mary’s (Calif.) and a very good Houston team. Look for senior guard Will Richardson to get going in December and lead what could potentially be a dangerous Oregon team come January.

Oregon State

Record: 1-6

Head Coach: Wayne Tinkle (7th season)

Best win so far: 73-64 vs. Portland State

Analysis: Currently on a six-game losing streak, the Beavers have the worst record of any team in the Pac-12. They’ve had a difficult schedule to start the season and they’ve had just one loss by more than 10 points, but this still figures to be a down year in Corvallis. Oregon State scored just 45 points in a loss to Penn State on Saturday.

Stanford

Record: 4-2

Head Coach: Jerod Haase (6th season)

Best win so far: 76-62 vs. San Jose State

Analysis: The loss at Santa Clara earlier this month was a bad one, but the Baylor one is understandable. The Cardinal have just two players averaging in double figures to start the season as the offense has struggled to this point, but they will be the first team CU deals with to start Pac-12 play.

Southern California

Record: 6-0

Head Coach: Andy Enfield (9th season)

Best win so far: 58-43 vs. San Diego State

Analysis: Evan Mobley may have bolted to the NBA after one season, but the excellent defense he provided has remained in Los Angeles to start the year for the Trojans. Only two opponents have scored 70-plus points on USC in the first six games, and the Trojans are coming off a win over San Diego State in the championship game of the Wooden Legacy tournament in which they held the Aztecs to under 50 points. The older Mobley brother, Isaiah, is still with the program and averaging over 12 points per game.

UCLA

Record: 6-1

Head Coach: Mick Cronin

Best win so far: 86-77 vs. Villanova (OT)

Analysis: Mick Cronin and the Bruins have proved last season’s magical run to the Final Four was no fluke with a solid start to the season headlined by an overtime win over Villanova at Pauley Pavilion in what was an instant classic of a game. That one loss is a big one though — a 20-point defeat against No. 1 Gonzaga, the team that knocked off the Bruins with a buzzer beater in the Final Four in April. UCLA may have the two best players in the conference in Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Utah

Record: 5-1

Head Coach: Craig Smith (1st season)

Best win so far: 72-58 vs. Tulsa

Analysis: Craig Smith has a difficult task in following up the Larry Krystkowiak era in Salt Lake City. It’s gone well so far the Utes as they’re off to a 5-1 start following back-to-back wins over Boston College and Tulsa in Daytona Beach, Fla. Junior center Branden Carlson has led the way so far for Utah.

Washington

Record: 4-4

Head Coach: Mike Hopkins (5th season)

Best win so far: 77-74 vs. George Mason

Analysis: Washington had a good start to the Crossover Classic with wins over George Mason and South Dakota State, but the tournament ended for the Huskies with a bad 81-62 loss to Nevada. Senior guard Terrell Brown Jr. has been a bright spot for the Huskies, averaging over 22 points per game.

Washington State

Record: 5-0

Head Coach: Kyle Smith (3rd season)

Best win so far: 109-61 vs. Idaho

Analysis: The Cougars have done what they’ve needed to so far this season, which is beat the bad teams on their schedule. They’ll be tested a little more in December and we’ll know more about this Wazzu team when January rolls around.

Load comments