Buy, Sell or Hold at Pac-12 Media Day

Posted by Andrew Murawa on October 27th, 2014

The concept here is simple and completely stolen borrowed from Seth Davis of CBS Sports. We’re going to take a look at the poll of media members conducted at the Pac-12 Media Day last week and tell you whether we think each team is going to exceed, fall short of, or match the expectations expressed in that poll. And when all this is said and done roughly five months from now, we’ll look back and see how we did. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.


Arizona: Hold. The fact is that when you’re picked first in your conference and earn 31 of the 32 possible first-place votes in the preseason poll, there is only so much higher you can go. Given that Arizona is going to be routinely chosen among the top four teams in the nation in just about every national preseason poll that appears, the stakes are pretty clear: Final Four or bust. Given the fact that Sean Miller has yet to reach such a lofty goal in his time in the desert and the fact that the Wildcats lost arguably their two most importance pieces from last season, I’m a least a little skeptical. Given such a high risk, buying this stock is out of the question. But with all the talent compiled in Tucson, we have to at least keep a little piece of the action here. When we come back to re-evaluate this, let’s consider an appearance in the Final Four the barrier, with anything less being considered a letdown and anything more a home run.

Sean Miller, Arizona

Is This The Year Sean Miller and The Wildcats Cut Down The Nets? (AP Photo)

Utah: Sell. Sell, sell, sell. And I like Utah. But let’s remember that this is a squad that went 9-9 in conference play last season. And while they’ve got some fun new pieces (Brekkot Chapman, Chris Reyes, Isaiah Wright, Jakob Poeltl and Kyle Kuzma all have the opportunity to earn playing time), second place in this league is some heady stuff. The Utes will have to prove that they can win games when they’ve got a target on their chest, that they can win close games (they were 3-8 in games decided by two possessions or fewer), and that they can win away from the Huntsman Center (they were 2-9 in true road games) before they’re worthy of blue-chip status.

Colorado: Hold. Everybody of significance who played for the Buffaloes in the NCAA Tournament last season returns and they welcome some talented freshmen. Sure, Spencer Dinwiddie is gone to the NBA after his early end to the season (ACL) last year, and sure, those guys that played in the NCAA Tournament got absolutely destroyed by Pitt. But the Buffs have the unique combination of talent and experience that is unmatched in this conference. Finishing at least third in the Pac-12 is a lock.

UCLA: Sell. Bye Kyle Anderson. Bye Jordan Adams. Bye Zach LaVine. Bye Wear twins. After all those byes, there’s no way I can say buy here. Throw in some offseason personnel disappointments (freshman Jonah Bolden is academically ineligible and Colorado State transfer Jon Octeus was denied admission to UCLA’s graduate program), and Steve Alford is left with, at most, a nine-man rotation that features two or three guys who would be better off with bit parts. Sure, the starting five could be stacked with potential, but there are too many questions marks with the bottom line to have the Bruins in your portfolio. Oh, and the idea that somebody gave this team a first-place vote is particularly confusing.

Stanford: Buy. Chasson Randle, Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic are the big-time contributors back from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team. Johnny Dawkins’ best recruiting class is ready to chip in right away. Two players return from season-ending injuries last year. And there are a host of role players ready to step into bigger jobs this season. With Randle as the team’s clear alpha dog, some strong second and third options, and plenty of depth, this is the year for the Cardinal to jump up the league standings.

Chasson Randle Can Be The Alpha-Dog That Leads Stanford To A Top-Four Finish (credit: Jae Hong)

Chasson Randle Can Be The Alpha-Dog That Leads Stanford To A Top-Four Finish (credit: Jae Hong)

Washington: Sell. After winning the conference (and missing the NCAA Tournament in the process) in 20111-12, the Huskies dipped to a four-way tie for sixth, and then a tie for eighth last season, both times with a 9-9 conference record. This time around, Lorenzo Romar is missing last year’s best player and, aside from sophomore point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, has a roster full of question marks. If some of those questions (Jernard Jarreau returning from injury and living up to his promise; Robert Upshaw keeping on the good side of his head coach; and Shawn Kemp Jr. locking up the glass) get answered positively, this could turn into a mistake. But more likely, this roster looks like a lower-division squad.

California: Buy. There is absolutely no depth here, that’s for sure, and there’s not much in the way of size either. But just taking players one-through-fve (some combination of Jabari Bird, David Kravish, Tyrone Wallace, Jordan Mathews and Sam Singer), this may be a top-four team in the conference. There’s no margin for error, but my gut tells me the energy of new head coach Cuonzo Martin pushes this team to an upper-division finish.

Oregon: Buy. The Ducks’ bench make the Golden Bears’ reserves look like an embarrassment of riches. In the wake of a sexual assault scandal, three other outgoing transfers and five graduating seniors, Dana Altman is combing the intramural leagues in Eugene for walk-ons in order to run five-on-five in practice. And with junior college center Michael Chandler already dealing with a nagging injury, it drives home the point that an injury or two here, or a knuckleheaded move (hello Elgin Cook and Jalil Abdul-Bassit) could leave this roster crippled. But really, this is Dana Altman we’re talking about here. And he’s got one of the league’s best players in Joseph Young. Contrary to popular belief, there is plenty of talent still here. Gimme the Ducks big.

Arizona State: Hold. This sounds about right. There is upside and athletic talent on this roster, but outside of senior wing Shaquielle McKissic, this bunch is unproven. And given that I’m buying the two teams directly ahead of them, it is awfully hard for me to buy the Sun Devils too.

USC: Buy. Andy Enfield’s had plenty of successful experience with stocks, and for whatever reason, I’m buying what he’s selling. The backcourt combination of Jordan McLaughlin and Katin Reinhardt has the ability to be among the best in the conference. And there are enough other pieces up front and on the wings to have this Trojans program on the rise. Don’t expect to see this team dancing come March, but the assault on the upper-half of the conference begins this year.

Washington State: Hold. This one is simple. I can’t see the Cougars climbing as high as 10th in this conference. And yet I’d bet my big toe that they won’t finish last, if for no other reason than DaVonte Lacy.

Oregon State: Sell. What’s that you say? Buy low and sell high? Well, sure, you couldn’t buy any lower than Oregon State right now. But you know what? If any roster in the Pac-12 could finish lower than 12th, this one would be it. Still, I’ve got to set a bar by which to judge this team at the end of the season. Let’s call a 2-16 season like USC suffered through last season the standard for a bad last place team. So, if I thought this Beavers team was going to win three games this year, I would call out “Buy.” If I thought they’d win two, I’d say “Hold.” Hear me now and believe me later. “Sell! Sell, sell sell!”

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

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