Introducing the Pac-12 Preseason Power RankingsPosted by AMurawa on November 9th, 2012
Well, it’s finally here. After the interminable offseason, we’ve finally got hoops back. Over the last month or so, and really, dating back throughout the summer, we’ve run down all the Pac-12 teams in as much detail as we could muster. Now, with real live basketball just hours away, it is time to unveil our preseason power rankings. Between Connor Pelton, Kevin Danna, Parker Baruh and myself, we’ve cobbled together the following rankings. Below those, I’ll take you through each team and tell you why my picks are better than the choices my colleagues made.
- Arizona – Three out of the four of us take the Wildcats to win the conference, and there’s nothing wrong with that pick. With veteran leaders like Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom paired with returning youngsters like Nick Johnson and Angelo Chol, bolstered by an elite recruiting class featuring three different talented big guys, the Wildcats are the safe pick to win the Pac-12.
- UCLA – I, however, am going with upside in picking a conference champion. While Arizona may be safe, if everything falls into place for UCLA, they’ve got national championship talent. Now, of course, there are numerous obstacles to everything falling into place, starting with project number one: getting Shabazz Muhammad eligible. The range of possible records for the Bruins is vast, but I’m going to gamble on the league’s most talented roster.
- Colorado – Maybe we’ve all been blinded by CU’s fantastic run through an admittedly weak Pac-12 tourney at the end of the year last year, but the four of us seem more bullish on the Buffaloes than the voters in the media poll. Guys like Andre Roberson, Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie are sort of known entities, but if the strong freshman class, led by Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson live up to expectations, it could be another great year in Boulder.
- Stanford – Winning an NIT title really doesn’t mean all that much in the long run, but Johnny Dawkins’ has plenty of talent around the perimeter. If he can cobble together some semblance of an inside game, Stanford can be an NCAA Tournament team. If not? Well, they should at least be entertaining.
- California – Here’s where we run into our biggest disagreement, the widest range between predictions for this team. I’ve got the Golden Bears struggling to replace guys like Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp, while Connor has Mike Montgomery riding an admittedly talented veteran backcourt to a third-place finish and an NCAA Tournament appearance. The truth is probably somewhere in between, meaning Kevin and Parker may be on the money with their fifth-place projections.
- Washington – I’m saying the Huskies take advantage of improved chemistry and more well-defined roles to sneak into the NCAA Tournament with an upper-division finish, while my colleagues are less enthused with their chances.
- USC – With a completely remade roster, the Trojans look capable of a major turnaround this season. But, at least one of our correspondents, Mr. Pelton, ain’t buying it. One thing is for sure, the middle and back-end of this conference this year is going to be mighty competitive.
- Oregon – The Ducks are still waiting on official news about the eligibility of Arsalan Kazemi, and if he’s available, this might be an exceedingly low pick for them. Still, with a freshman point guard and nine newcomers, expect Dana Altman to hit a few bumps in the road.
- Arizona State – Jahii Carson is finally available for Herb Sendek, and if nothing else, that means the Sun Devils should be far more appealing to watch this year. It remains to be seen if ASU has the horses to keep up with Carson, and our panel of judges remains unconvinced.
- Oregon State – The Beavers have plenty of talent on their roster, but we’ll need to see Craig Robinson harness this crew into a team that gets after it on defense and plays under control on offense before we trust them too much. But, if everything comes together, there is definitely enough talent here to get up into the bubble conversation.
- Washington State –Brock Motum and… Yeah, while Reggie Moore was never a consistent point guard for the Cougars (especially the last two years), at least he was a point guard. Minus a floor general, we could see this team turn into this year’s version of Arizona State, as two of our four voters picked WSU dead last.
- Utah – There’s a lot more talent here, but there’s also a lot more talent everywhere this year. Parker and I see the Utes matching last year’s 11th place performance (albeit with a slightly better record and far more cohesion), while Connor and Kevin park them in the basement.