1) No. 2 Stanford Cardinal (10-1)
Stanford is 10-1 and still ranked No. 2 in the country. It continues to roll through its non-conference schedule. Things will get more difficult starting on Dec. 23 when Pac-12 games begin.
2) No. 12 Arizona Wildcats (7-0)
Arizona is undefeated and keeps moving up the ranks week after week. When Cate Reese is one of your leaders, your team is in good hands. The Wildcats should breeze through their next three games against unranked opponents and test themselves against the Baylor Bears in the middle of the month.
3) No. 13 UCLA Bruins (8-1)
Speaking of teams climbing the ranks, the Bruins are doing just that week after week. Led by Charisma Osborne, who is averaging a team-high 20.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, UCLA has shocked the NCAA. The Bruins play their rival USC on Dec. 15 and end the month against No. 17 Oregon. They may have surprised people early on, but by the end of the calendar year, we’ll know how good the Bruins really are.
Meanwhile, UCLA women’s athletics claimed a championship in a different sport (soccer) on Tuesday and the women’s basketball team is undoubtedly proud of that:
4) No. 15 Utah Utes (7-0)
One of three undefeated teams in the Pac-12, Utah is right where it wants to be. Alissa Pili is leading the frontcourt, averaging 19.9 points and 6.3 rebounds. Gianna Kneepkens leads the backcourt, averaging 14.4. points. As long as they don’t have a meltdown, the Utes should cruise through the rest of 2022.
5) No. 17 Oregon Ducks (6-1)
Just outside the Top 15, Oregon moved up two spots once again. Similar to Utah, Oregon is racking up wins as the year comes to a close.
6) Oregon State Beavers (6-2)
Oregon State has won its last two games dominantly, led by Talia von Oelhoffen scoring 16.6 points per game and Jelena Mitrovic dominating the boards. That winning streak will be tested when they play the Ducks on Sunday.
7) Washington State Cougars (6-1)
The Cougars have won three in a row and are playing their best ball of this young season. With Charlisse Leger-Walker averaging 21 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists, the Cougars will have a chance to run the table in December.
8) Colorado Buffaloes (7-2)
It was smooth sailing for the Buffaloes last week, as they blew out both of their opponents. Next week they’ll play Utah and we’ll see how good this team really is. Before that, Colorado will focus on beating Southern Utah on Wednesday.
9) USC Trojans (9-0)
USC remains unbeaten and its upcoming matchup against UCLA will be must-see TV. This guard-heavy Trojan team is deep and athletic and has multiple players that can get hot and dominate a game offensively. Don’t be surprised if it shocks the Bruins next week.
10) Washington Huskies (6-1)
The Huskies struggle to put points on the board, but they’ve added a couple of wins to their record. Dalayah Daniels leads the team in points (11.9) and rebounds (6.4) per game. The Pac-12 is a top-notch conference and Washington is a respectable team fighting in the back of the pack.
11) California Golden Bears (6-2)
Cal lost to SMU 70-56 on Sunday; it had won five in a row. Jayda Curry continues to produce for the Golden Bears, but the team lacks the 3-point shooting needed to compete in today’s game. With a tough start to their Pac-12 schedule, things could get ugly quickly for Cal.
12) Arizona State Sun Devils (6-3)
The Sun Devils are struggling. They’ve lost three of their last four games and it’s hard to see where the wins will come for Arizona State. Can they get wins against Stephen F. Austin and Prairie View A&M before conference play starts?
We are knocking on the door of conference play, and some things have become clear. Stanford is still the cream of the crop, but numbers 2-5 will be as tight as ever and I expect there to be some upsets once these teams play each other head-to-head. We’ll have to wait another week for that to kick off, but, in the meantime, plenty of good non-conference games will keep us entertained.