Six Bold Pac-12 Thoughts Heading Into the Season

Posted by Adam Butler on October 31st, 2017

Six — or half of a cheeky 12 aligning to the conference — predictions are bold and the headlines to each, authoritative. Ultimately, these are storylines to track, components of the season to make note of as we progress through the Pac-12.

Here’s Your Pac-12 Player of the Year (USA Today Images)

  1. The FBI Investigation will not be a distraction – Well that’s a loaded headline. We’ll stick to hoops. This may not be quantifiable but with the Pac-12’s two best teams getting named in the FBI’s September complaint and both quickly dismissing assistants, it’s been an evergreen consideration among league pundits. One beat writer thought so much of the investigation/arrests that he dropped Arizona to fourth in his poll (but kept USC atop the conference standings). Alas, Arizona once again sold out its Red-Blue game and USC managed to secure a commitment from a top 10 point guard in the class of 2018. The impending uncertainty will serve as a galvanizing force to the 2017-18 season.
  2. Tra Holder will win POY – The rosters in Tucson and Los Angeles (USC) are loaded, lending to several diluted cases for Player of the Year. Meanwhile, Arizona State’s Tra Holder has an improved roster around him, the confidence of his coach and three years of experience. He’s a senior guard in a senior guard loving sport. Is Pac-12 POY in his sights? It might be a stretch, but not out of the question.
  3. Someone will make 10 or more threes in a game – To be clear, this may have happened last season. UCLA’s Isaac Hamilton made nine; Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey sunk eight; and Arizona State’s Torian Graham made seven on two separate occasions. They’ll call it the Steph-ification of the game. Some candidates for the deed: Aaron Holiday, Dorian Pickens, George King, Elijah Stewart, David Crisp.
  4. Stanford will beat UNC – In the Cardinal’s biggest non-conference game this season, Jerod Haase will get a crack at his mentor and the defending champions. Joel Berry projects to be back – albeit at post-video-game-frustration capacity – but this game will be about Travis Reid, healthy and featured, becoming recognized as one of the nation’s toughest players. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels have exhausted their West Coast welcome after winning a title last April in Phoenix.
  5. A team will lose its exhibition – They may be D-II schools but sometimes they pull this stuff off. Last week Arizona State went to double-overtime with Northern State. Ever heard of it? Irrelevant. Conversely, Oregon put up 124 on Northwest Christian despite returning basically just Payton Pritchard.
  6. No coaches will be fired this season – Everyone loves the coaching carousel but with the Pac-12 seemingly making no money, there’s just no budget for replacing coaches. It’s also not my favorite topic – projecting unemployment – but it also appears that each of the conference’s teams stands to improve (in some aspect) from last season. Oregon State has to win more than one conference game and Washington State is in its fourth year of Ernie (admittedly a dangerous time for coaches, although he is seemingly protected by a new athletic director). Conversely, Cal and Washington introduce new staffs. It’s worth noting that both Colorado and Utah will likely be worse than last year, but Tad Boyle and Larry Krystkowiak are still fantastic.
Adam Butler (47 Posts)

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