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Pac-12 MBB power ratings: Initial NET rankings reflect loads of non-conference losing

The first NET rankings of the season were released Monday, with just four Pac-12 teams in the range that suggests NCAA Tournament at-large berths could be forthcoming: UCLA, Utah, Arizona and Arizona State.

For everyone else, substantial improvement is required.

The NET (or NCAA Evaluation Tool) serves a vital role in the selection and seeding process. Although teams can gain or lose ground once league play begins, the non-conference results create a multiplier effect that either raises the floor or lowers the ceiling for a given conference.

The Pac-12 is on pace for its worst non-conference showing in decades with a winning percentage of just 59.3 percent.

A top-40 NET ranking at the end of the season usually indicates an at-large berth is forthcoming.

  • Four teams need to hold their ground: The Bruins, Wildcats, Sun Devils and Utes.
  • Six teams have varying degrees of work ahead: Oregon, WSU, Washington, Colorado, USC and Stanford.
  • Two teams, Oregon State and Cal, are buried so deep in the NET that the at-large path is already blocked.

To the power ratings …

(NET rankings through Monday)

1. UCLA (7-2/2-0)

Last week: 2

Results: won at Stanford 80-66, beat Oregon 65-56

NET ranking: 14

Next up: vs. Denver (Saturday)

Comment: From the department of picking nits: The Bruins aren’t getting much production from their bench. They have three months to find answers.

2. Arizona (7-1/1-1)

Last week: 1

Results: lost at Utah 81-66, beat Cal 81-68

NET ranking: 27

Next up: vs. Indiana (Saturday in Las Vegas)

Comment: With the Hoosiers this weekend and Tennessee on Dec. 17, the Wildcats have two chances to polish their resume before entering conference play, where marquee matchups will be few and far between.

3. Arizona State (8-1/2-0)

Last week: 3

Results: won at Colorado 60-59, beat Stanford 68-64

NET ranking: 35

Next up: at SMU (Wednesday)

Comment: Any weekend sweep is worth celebrating. When you shoot 9-of-49 from 3-point range and still win twice, it’s just a tad sweeter.

4. Utah (7-2/2-0)

Last week: 7

Results: beat Arizona 81-66, won at WSU 67-65

NET ranking: 19

Next up: vs. Jacksonville State (Thursday)

Comment: Every season brings at least one major upside surprise. Here’s the frontrunner to fill that role.

5. Washington (7-2/1-1)

Last week: 4

Results: lost at OSU 66-65, beat Colorado 73-63

NET ranking: 109

Next up: at Gonzaga (Friday)

Comment: We suspect the Huskies will finish with a better record in the games Keion Brooks isn’t their leading scorer than in the games he is.

6. USC (6-3/2-0)

Last week: 8

Results: won at Cal 66-51, beat OSU 63-62

NET ranking: 148

Next up: vs. Cal State Fullerton (Wednesday)

Comment: No team had a softer start to Pac-12 play than the Trojans. Anything less than 2-0 would have been problematic.

7. Colorado (4-5/0-2)

Last week: 5

Results: lost to ASU 60-59, lost at Washington 73-63

NET ranking: 65

Next up: vs. Colorado State (Thursday)

Comment: First-rate wins are vital to outperforming the NET rankings on Selection Sunday. CU’s victory over Tennessee could be its lifeboat.

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