UCLA has won five straight games heading into Pac-12 play.
It was a light Christmas week for the LA Eight, the eight college basketball teams in Los Angeles and Orange County, as they all wrapped up their games before beginning conference play this week. The local teams were just 5-5 on the week, and two of those victories came against NAIA schools. The Long Beach St. 49ers picked up the signature win of the week over No. 14 Xavier, but even that came against a team missing two of its top three scorers.
Here are the final college basketball rankings of the eight local teams for this calendar year, and the final one before conference play begins as early as Thursday night.
The LA Eight Rankings (through games of December 27):
1. Long Beach State 49ers 7-6 (Last week: 1)
The 49ers beat Xavier and Auburn en route to the finals of the Diamond Head Classic, but they were outclassed in the final by Kansas State on Christmas. Xavier was without two starters in their loss to Long Beach State, but the 49ers handled them rather easily and picked up their second win over a top-14 team, in five tries, this season.
This week: Long Beach State opens Big West conference play with a road contest at UC Irvine on Monday
2. UCLA Bruins 7-5 (3)
The Bruins beat Richmond on Friday and head into conference play on a five-game winning streak. Sure, the teams they have beaten in the post-Reeves Nelson era haven't exactly been household names but they have beaten them by an average of 19 points.
This week: UCLA opens Pac-12 conference play with a weekend in the Bay Area against the two teams playing the best in the conference, Stanford and Cal. This will be a good test to see if the Bruins really are the team that was picked to finish at or near the top of the Pac-12 conference.
3. Cal State Fullerton Titans 8-3 (2)
This week: Fullerton opens Big West play Thursday at home against UC Davis, then hosts Pacific on Monday.
4. Loyola Marymount Lions 7-6 (4)
The Lions got drubbed on the road by Morgan State before returning home and getting a win over NAIA school Vanguard on Tuesday.
This week: LMU opens West Coast Conference play on New Year's Eve with a road battle against the San Francisco Dons.
5. USC Trojans 5-8 (5)
The Trojans closed out their non-conference schedule by getting overmatched by Kansas at the Galen Center on Thursday. It was the sixth time in 13 games this season the offensively-challenged Trojans have shot under 40%. The good news for USC is their defense, which has held every opponent to 66 points or less this season, the first time they have gone this long doing so since 1948.
This week: USC begins their Pac-12 slate with road games at Cal and Stanford on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
6. Pepperdine Waves 6-5 (6)
The Waves hung tough against Washington State in the Cougar Hardwood Classic in Seattle but ultimately fell 67-56. Pepperdine is 1-2 against Pac-12 opponents this season.
This week: Pepperdine opens WCC play on Thursday at home against San Francisco, then hosts Saint Mary's on Saturday afternoon.
7. UC Irvine Anteaters 3-9 (7)
Irvine picked up a win on Friday against NAIA school Hope International.
This week: Irvine opens Big West play on Thursday at Northridge, then battles Long Beach State at home on Monday.
8. Cal State Northridge Matadors 3-7 (8)
Northridge closed out their non-conference slate with a road loss on Thursday at Washington.
This week: Big West conference play begins with a home game against Irvine on Thursday, then a trip to UC Riverside on Monday night.