Pac-12 Power Rankings
1. Arizona (23-4, 11-4)
2. Oregon (22-6, 11-4)
3. UCLA (20-7, 10-4) - Ben Howland said third-leading scorer Travis Wear is "doubtful" for tonight, but "there's a chance he'll be ready by Saturday." The forward injured his right foot in practice Saturday.
4. Cal (18-9, 10-5)
5. Arizona State (20-8, 9-6) - ASU set its single-season team blocks record and, at 180, is 20 away from breaking the Pac-12's all-time mark.
6. Colorado (18-8, 8-6) - UA coach Sean Miller called CU forward Andre Roberson the best defender in the league, if not the country.
7. Stanford (16-12, 7-8) - Only two players have scored in double figures in every conference game this year: Washington State preseason Player of the Year candidate Brock Motum ... and the Cardinal's Dwight Powell.
8. USC (12-15, 7-7) - Center Omar Oraby didn't practice Monday with flu-like symptoms.
9. Washington (15-13, 7-8)
10. Utah (11-15, 3-11)
11. Oregon State (13-15, 3-12)
12. Washington State (11-17, 2-13)
This week's games
• No. 11 Arizona at USC, 7:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Arizona)
• Colorado at Stanford, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
• Arizona State at UCLA, 9:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Arizona)
• Utah at Cal, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
• Oregon State at No. 24 Oregon, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
• Arizona State at USC, 1 p.m. (FSAZ)
• Colorado at Cal, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
• No. 11 Arizona at UCLA, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
• Washington State at Washington, 1:30 p.m. (FSAZ)
• Utah at Stanford, 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Arizona)
Last week's results
• Arizona State 69, Washington State 57
• Arizona 70, Washington 52
• Cal 48, Oregon 46
• Colorado 60, Utah 50
• Stanford 82, Oregon State 72
• Arizona 73, Washington State 56
• Cal 60, Oregon State 59
• Oregon 77, Stanford 66
• Washington 68, Arizona State 59
• UCLA 75, USC 59
The big number
Freshmen to start a game for the Pac-12 this year. All but two conference teams have started a freshman.
A look at the RPIs of Pac-12's best eight teams, per RealTimeRPI.com on Tuesday:
87. Arizona State
Track down the Pac-12 Pundit on Twitter at @patrickfinley or at azstarnet.com/pac12pundit, and he'll answer your questions all week long. A sampling:
Is the Pac-12 on the ascendency? How is the 2013 recruiting class as a whole? Will we have MORE tournament teams in 2014? - Ken
A: Good question, Ken. And I love the word "ascendency" - the Irish writers at Match Play last week used it a lot. I think the state of the league next year will swing, more than any other factor, on which freshmen - the UCLA and Arizona trios, and Jahii Carson - stick around. Super-recruit Aaron Gordon choosing a Pac-12 school, be it UA, Oregon or Washington, would help, too.
Who would win in a dunk contest among Cherokee Parks, Tyrone Hill, George Zidek, and Rick Anderson? - Joe
A: Ha. Wanna feel old? Anderson is the only one on that list under 39.
Five facts, takeaways, opinions and hunches from Tuesday's conference call:
1. Dominic Artis is back - probably. Oregon coach Dana Altman said his star freshman guard, who has been out almost five weeks with a left foot injury, could return Thursday against Oregon State. He did some dry work with the team Monday. "My goal is to give him some minutes against Oregon State," Altman said. The coach said he hopes to ramp up Artis' minutes in time for the Pac-12 tournament.
2. The race for fourth is huge. The top four teams in the league get a first-round bye in the conference tournament. Were the season to end today, Cal would finish fourth, one game ahead of Arizona State and 1 1/2 games above Colorado. "Quite frankly," CU coach Tad Boyle said, "I think we have to win out to have a chance to finish fourth. … If we don't, we're going to need to get lucky and catch a break here and there."
3. Box score filler! In his last game at Gill Coliseum, Oregon State senior Joe Burton posted one of the great box score lines of the year on Saturday. The 6-foot-7-inch, 295-pound center had 15 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals in 32 minutes.
4. Where's the scoring? Of the 10 league games payed last week, only five winners scored more than 70 points. Two winners - winners! - scored exactly 60 points (Colorado, Cal). And, on Thursday, Cal beat Oregon 48-46. "It's gotten more physical," Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. "It's harder to score." Other excuses floated by coaches for a general lack of offense: poor free-throw shooting and the fact that this late in Pac-12 play, teams have already seen each other once. "A lot of times you're in conference games, and you're playing teams for the second go-round," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said.
5. Free-throw machine. CU guard Spencer Dinwiddie has made 149 free throws this year - more than all but two players in the league have even attempted.