Image: Richard Hartog/AP
Happy New Year! Some 2012 shuffling has broken out now that the conference season has begun!
1. Stanford (11-1, 2-0). It was not the prettiest weekend ever, the Cardinal gutting out an off-night to win at USC and then having an easier time against UCLA, but its clear that the Cardinal are still the class of this conference. Sophomore guard Toni Kokenis playing better ever since big game against Tennessee.
2. Gonzaga (12-2, 1-0). The Zags had a great holiday tournament in Vegas, defeating Georgia and Dayton and got the WCC schedule off on the right foot. A definitive move into the No. 2 spot with seven straight victories. Next up a road weekend in LA against Pepperdine and LMU.
3. Arizona State (10-2, 1-0). The Sun Devils soundly defeated rival Arizona to open the Pac-12 schedule and snap a six-game Wildcats win streak. This is still not a team that can put a lot of points on the board and they will be tested with the L.A. teams coming up this week.
4. Cal (9-5, 0-2). Big step backward for a Bears team that was on the verge of the national rankings before getting swept by UCLA and USC. Cal averaged 54.5 points in those two games and were 22 of 39 from the free-throw line.
5. USC (6-6, 1-1). The Women of Troy are scrambling to collect enough wins to get NCAA Tournament eligible. The loss to Stanford didn’t help, but the decisive win over Cal was an indication of the level this team is capable of playing.
6. UCLA (6-7, 1-1). A split against the Bay Area schools was a strong start for the Bruins considering the injury issues. Markel Walker’s 11-point, seven-rebound game is a promising sign.
7. Fresno State (10-3). Five straight wins for the Bulldogs, who move on to face UT-Arlington on Tuesday and then UNLV on Friday.
8. Washington State (8-6, 2-0). A double-overtime victory over Oregon State gave the Cougars a road sweep to open the Pac-12 schedule, the program’s first-ever conference road sweep for the first time since 1994-95.
9. St. Mary’s (11-4, 2-0). The Gaels opened WCC play with a big win, defeating BYU in Moraga to end the Cougars 10-game win streak. SMC has won six in a row.
10. San Diego (9-3). No shame in a one-point loss to No. 13 Texas Tech on Friday. Saturday’s game against St. Mary’s will be a very good one.