College hoops Power Rankings: The Pac-12 is in trouble

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire

The biggest drop after Week 1 of the power rankings came from Arizona.

The biggest drop after Week 2 of the power rankings came from USC.

Sensing a pattern?

It might be a small sample size, but the Pac-12 has been the most disappointing major conference in the country so far this season -- which is saying something considering the Big Ten's performance against the ACC this week in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. At least the Big Ten still has Michigan State, and Purdue and Minnesota have done some nice things this season.

Heading into the season, the Pac-12 had two of the nation's best teams on paper. Arizona had a legitimate case to be preseason No. 1 -- or at least the best team not named Duke. USC brought back as much talent as anyone in the country. Even UCLA had promise despite the mass departures from last season.

On the flip side, the Pac-12 has also had some of the biggest off-court distractions in the country -- from the same three teams that were atop the league in the preseason. Arizona and USC were both involved in the FBI's investigation of NCAA basketball in late September, with an assistant coach from each school arrested. Meanwhile UCLA had three players -- including LiAngelo Ball -- arrested for shoplifting in China.

So three weeks into the season, where does that leave the league? Right now, Arizona State is the conference's only team that has done anything worth writing home about, and the Sun Devils are the lone Pac-12 representative in this week's power rankings.

The list of bad losses is unnervingly long. Just this week, Washington State lost to UC Davis and Colorado lost at Colorado State. Going further back, California lost to Chaminade and UC Riverside. Stanford lost to Eastern Washington. Oregon State lost to Long Beach State. The good wins don't even come close to balancing things out.

And that leads us to the scary part for the league. Does it get much better? Arizona will figure things out, especially once it gets Rawle Alkins back. USC will likely be a tournament team, as will UCLA. Arizona State looks the part so far. But outside of those four teams, is there any other team that has shown even flashes of promise thus far?

There's still a long way to go, but right now, the Pac-12 is a massive disappointment -- and having just one team in this week's power rankings solidifies that notion.

Previous: Preseason | Week 1 | Week 2

1. Duke Blue Devils
Last week: 1

We keep asking questions about Duke -- as the Blue Devils continue to put up 90-plus points and roll through their season. Eventually their inconsistency through 30 to 35 minutes is going to catch up to them, but it likely won't be for a few weeks. They play St. Francis (Pennsylvania), Boston College and Evansville in the next 26 days.

2. Kansas Jayhawks
Record: 7-0
Last week: 2

Devonte' Graham has absolutely taken the next step forward with Frank Mason III now in the NBA. He has had three games of double-figure assists and has now scored 35 points in back-to-back games. The nation's freshmen are getting more attention, but Graham is putting up terrific numbers to start the season.

3. Michigan State Spartans
Record: 7-1
Last week: 3

The Spartans' first-half performance against Notre Dame was one of the best 20 minutes of basketball we have seen this season. Michigan State is clearly the best one-loss team in the country right now, with wins over North Carolina and Notre Dame in the past eight days. They might not be tested against until 2018.

4. Villanova Wildcats
Record: 8-0
Last week: 4

Coach Jay Wright's troops kick their schedule up a notch this week with a showdown against Gonzaga in New York City at the Jimmy V Classic (Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN). Villanova hasn't faced a fellow top-25 team yet this season, with the Battle 4 Atlantis going a bit differently than expected. There's also a sneaky Big Five game on the docket in a week and a half, at Temple.

5. Texas A&M Aggies
Record: 7-0
Last week: 7

USC's loss at SMU on Saturday night takes some of the shine off of the Aggies' road win last weekend, but their wins over West Virginia, USC, Penn State and Oklahoma State are still enough for a top-five spot. That will be tested on Tuesday, when A&M heads to Phoenix to take on Arizona. Deandre Ayton vs. Robert Williams and Tyler Davis will be fun.

6. Florida Gators
Record: 5-1
Last week: 9

It wasn't as eventful a week for the Gators because they didn't do anything. No games. Starting Monday, though, Florida has three games in six days -- with an in-state game against Florida State and a neutral-site showdown against Cincinnati bookending a home game against Loyola Chicago. Can the Gators win a slower affair? We'll find out.

7. Miami Hurricanes
Record: 7-0
Last week: 10

The Hurricanes answered the call this past week, going to Minnesota and handing the Golden Gophers their first loss. Dewan Huell has given coach Jim Larranaga a different option on offense, providing Miami with balance inside. They just need Lonnie Walker to break out soon -- he has had two double-figure games all season.

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Record: 7-1
Last week: 8

Notre Dame isn't going to drop for losing at Michigan State, especially when the Fighting Irish still have a win over Wichita State on their résumé. They're entering a softer part of their schedule this month, though they're visiting coach Mike Brey's former stomping grounds, Delaware, next weekend and also have a neutral-site game with Indiana.

9. Wichita State Shockers
Record: 6-1
Last week: 13

The lone blemish on the Shockers' résumé is a one-point loss to Notre Dame in Hawaii, and they now own a road win at Baylor after ending the Bears' home-court winning streak over the weekend. Shaquille Morris' efficiency with his minutes continues to impress, averaging around 14 points and five boards despite playing just 22 minutes.

10. North Carolina Tar Heels
Record: 8-1
Last week: 12

The Tar Heels played a jam-packed week after their busy stretch at the PK80. In fact, in the past two weeks, North Carolina has played six games. The lone loss so far is against Michigan State, while they continue to compile solid wins. Luke Maye has bounced back from his struggles against the Spartans, totaling 73 points and 33 rebounds this week.

11. Kentucky Wildcats
Record: 7-1
Last week: 11

We still haven't really seen what coach John Calipari has in his team because its best win after a loss to Kansas is against Harvard ... or Troy ... or East Tennessee State. In other words, we're still waiting. That should change after this week, with Kentucky facing Virginia Tech, UCLA and Louisville in three straight games.

12. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Record: 7-1
Last week: 14

Gonzaga has looked as good as anyone with one loss so far this season, beating Texas and Creighton and suffering a lone loss to Florida at the PK80. The Bulldogs have a monster chance on Tuesday, facing Villanova in what is basically the Wildcats' home away from home at Madison Square Garden. Regardless, they have quieted the "this is the year for Saint Mary's" chatter.

13. Arizona State Sun Devils
Record: 7-0
Last week: 15

As mentioned above, Arizona State is really the only Pac-12 team that has done much of note so far this season -- and that 16-point, neutral-site win over Xavier looks even better now. This will be a litmus test week for the Sun Devils, though. St. John's goes west to play them in Los Angeles, and then Arizona State will travel to Kansas on Sunday.

14. Xavier Musketeers
Record: 7-1
Last week: 16

It's too bad most of the teams above them had impressive weeks because there haven't been too many weeks better than what the Musketeers did in the past seven days. Xavier had back-to-back 13-point wins over Baylor and Cincinnati, with the latter not feeling that close for most of the game. The next four are at home, too.

15. Virginia Cavaliers
Record: 8-0
Last week: 20

Virginia-Wisconsin won't be shown in coaching clinics for its offense any time soon, but the Cavaliers continue to roll through their opponents. Tuesday at West Virginia will be a contrast of styles, and Virginia takes care of the ball as well as anyone in the country. The Cavaliers will have to keep the Mountaineers off the glass.

16. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Record: 8-1
Last week: 6

Maybe dropping Minnesota 10 spots for losing at home to Miami is a little much, but the Golden Gophers' wins over Providence and Alabama also don't look as shiny today. If you like points and teams that get up and down the floor, next Saturday is for you: Minnesota travels to Arkansas. That's another solid test for the Gophers.

17. Seton Hall Pirates
Record: 7-1
Last week: 19

We probably should have dropped Seton Hall a bit more last week after its loss to Rhode Island, but the Pirates more than answered the call this week, beating Texas Tech on Thursday and then going to Louisville and knocking off the Cardinals. That's one of the most impressive weeks of any team in the country.

18. Cincinnati Bearcats
Record: 7-1
Last week: 5

Two teams we didn't know much about heading into the week were Miami and Cincinnati. Miami won at Minnesota; Cincinnati got blitzed by crosstown rival Xavier. As a result, the Bearcats take a tumble. Fortunately we don't need to wait long to find out more about them: They face Florida in New Jersey on Saturday.

19. TCU Horned Frogs
Record: 8-0
Last week: 22

TCU has one of the most low-key interesting weeks in the country this season. The Horned Frogs host SMU on Tuesday, then face Nevada at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday. Their best win so far this season is a neutral-site victory against St. Bonaventure, so this is a chance for the Horned Frogs to pick up some quality wins.

20. Purdue Boilermakers
Record: 8-2
Last week: NR

Purdue was out of the preseason rankings, jumped in after Week 1, fell out after Week 2 and is now back in the rankings. The Boilermakers responded well to a 1-2 Bahamas trip, handling Louisville at home on Tuesday, and then turning around and beating Maryland and Northwestern to open Big Ten play.

21. Nevada Wolf Pack
Record: 8-0
Last week: NR

You might be looking at the nation's best team outside the power conferences (not including Gonzaga). Coach Eric Musselman has a team filled with Division I transfers who are coming together early. They've already beaten Rhode Island and have also played four of their first eight games on opponents' home courts. That counts for something.

22. West Virginia Mountaineers
Record: 7-1
Last week: 24

West Virginia is still a bit of an enigma since the loss to Texas A&M to start the season. The Mountaineers have beaten UCF and Michael Porter-less Missouri, but that's about it. A home tilt against a hot Virginia team will give us a little more insight into what this team really looks like -- and they get Esa Ahmad back in a few weeks.

23. Rhode Island Rams
Record: 5-2
Last week: NR

Not only has this team held its own since losing E.C. Matthews to injury, it might have improved. The Rams beat Providence over the weekend to go with a neutral-site win over Seton Hall during Thanksgiving week. Freshman guard Daron "Fatts" Russell has 20 points in back-to-back games and has been the catalyst.

24. Tennessee Volunteers
Record: 6-1
Last week: NR

The Volunteers are one of the nation's most surprising teams so far this season, going 2-1 at the Battle 4 Atlantis with wins over Purdue and NC State, and then having a solid trip to the Peach State this week, beating Mercer and Georgia Tech. Their lone loss is to Villanova. Grant Williams -- one-time AAU teammate of Harry Giles and Alterique Gilbert -- leads the way.

25. Baylor Bears
Record: 5-2
Last week: 21

Yes, the Bears went 0-2 this week -- including a home loss to Wichita State. But defeats at Xavier and at home to the Shockers don't really crush Baylor. It still has a neutral-site wins over Creighton and Wisconsin, though the latter is beginning to look average at best. Baylor should dominate its next five games before Big 12 play.

Dropped out: USC, Louisville, Texas Tech, Alabama