Pac-12 Conference Preview

Pac-12 Conference Preview

Conference Outlook

The Pac-12 once again comes into this season looking like the worst of the Power-6 conferences, as they look like they will get the least amount of NCAA Tournament teams, while they only have two teams that are reasonable picks to be in the preseason Top-25. Oregon should return to the top of the conference as usual, while Washington looks to challenge them at the top of the conference standings. UCLA seemed to be a challenger but different injuries have pushed them back more towards the middle of the pack. Arizona, USC, and Arizona State all will have chances to make the NCAA Tournament this season, all three should enter the year on the bubble. Colorado and Utah both will be tough outs for teams this season, while Oregon State and Stanford do have the talent to be decent. The bottom of the conference will see California and Washington State, both of whom will struggle to find wins in the Pac-12.

Power Rankings along with team Breakdowns

1.Oregon Ducks: The Ducks missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, as they never seemed to find their groove with so many grad transfers. That will change this season, as they bring back my preseason Pac-12 Player of the year in Payton Pritchard, who will mix well with a young core of Bol Bol, Louis King, Victor Bailey Jr., and Kenny Wooten. This Ducks team should be much better this season as they look to win the Pac-12 outright and potentially make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

2.Washington Huskies: While Washington didn’t make the NCAA Tournament in year one under Mike Hopkins, it would be crazy to call last season anything other than a success, as they beat Kansas on the road and won a game against Arizona, while they competed for a Tournament bid late into the season. The Huskies return everyone, including Jaylen Nowell, Noah Dickerson, Matisse Thybulle, and David Crisp, who all should be great players this season. Look for Washington to not only make it back to the NCAA Tournament but they also should compete with Oregon for the Pac-12 title.

3.UCLA Bruins: The Bruins looked to have one of the deepest teams in the sport but they were hit hard with Shareef O’Neal and Tyger Campbell both being forced to redshirt due to health concerns and injury issues. This team has a good duo with Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes, while Moses Brown should be good inside. This team looked to be a potential Top-25 team early in the preseason but now they look to be more in that tier of bubble teams in the Pac-12. Look for them to go around 12-6 in league play, which should get them back to the NCAA Tournament once again.

4.Arizona Wildcats: After dealing with the FBI Investigation and losing all their starters after the season this team looked to be bad but instead they filled this roster with a lot of solid role players. Transfers Ryan Luther, Chase Jeter, and Justin Coleman are all going to help out immediately, while Emmanuel Akot, Brandon Randolph, and Brandon Williams all should be good young pieces to build around. Look for this team to go around 12-6 in the Pac-12 which should get them into the NCAA Tournament once again.

5.USC Trojans: The Trojans were a solid team last year as they finished second in the Pac-12, however, that was not good enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament. They lose a lot but they have some good leadership with Bennie Boatwright, while freshman Kevin Porter Jr, Elijah Weaver will be good and they have solid players around them with Derrick Thornton Jr, Jonah Matthews, and Shaqquan Aaron should be solid role players as well. Look for this team to go around 11-7 in Pac-12 play, which should help them compete for a Tournament bid.

6.Arizona State Sun Devils: The Sun Devils used great guard play to get off to a great start last year, which led them to an NCAA Tournament bid. This year they won’t have a great backcourt but they have a great frontcourt, as Romello White, Taeshon Cherry, Kimani Lawrence, and De’Quon Lake look to form a great frontcourt, while Remy Martin should step into the starting point guard position. Look for this team to push for a Tournament bid, while likely going around 10-8 in Pac-12 play.

7.Colorado Buffaloes: The Buffaloes continue to be pretty decent as a team but with a player like McKinley Wright leading them they should be solid. Wright should put up gigantic numbers this season while helping Colorado to win a few big games in Pac-12 play. Look for this team to be a tough out for most teams in the Pac-12, especially at home, which should help them to an 8-10 conference record.

8.Utah Utes: Utah once again comes into this season looking to be solid in Pac-12 play, while trying to potentially contend for an at-large bid. Sedrick Barefield should have a monstrous season this year, while JUCO transfer Charles Jones Jr. will have an immediate impact for the Utes. This team should once again be pretty decent this season, as they look to be in the middle of the pack in the Pac-12, as they will likely go around 8-10 in conference play.

9.Oregon State Beavers: Oregon State had one good year in 2016 where they made the NCAA Tournament but other than that they usually are a bottom of the Pac-12 team, which is what many are expecting this season. Stephen Thompson Jr. and Tres Tinkle should continue to be good players that will push for All-Pac-12 selections, while they do have some good young pieces around them. Look for this team to go around 6-12 in league play, while missing the NCAA Tournament once again.

10.Stanford Cardinal: The Cardinal looked to have a team that could chase down a potential tournament bid this season but then Reid Travis announced he would transfer. The Cardinal have some solid young players like Oscar Da Silva and Daejon Davis but it would be unlikely to see this team really doing much this season. Look for the Cardinal to struggle in Pac-12 play but they should stay above teams like California and Washington State.

11.California Golden Bears: California made the NCAA Tournament as a four seed in 2016, now they look like a consistent bottom feeder in the Pac-12, this just shows how quickly things can change in this sport. Wyking Jones will be looking for strong seasons from players like Justice Sueing, as they hope to stay out of the basement of the Pac-12. Look for them to win a game or two in Pac-12 play, which will keep them at or near the bottom of the conference standings.

12.Washington State Cougars: The Cougars once again are the heavy favorites to finish last in the Pac-12, as they don’t have much talent to work with. Robert Franks will be the team leader this season, which is better than nothing, however, without Malachi Flynn, this team will struggle to find enough offense. Look for the Cougars to once again be at the bottom of the league standings as they might only win a game or two in Pac-12 play.

All-Conference Teams

First Team

Payton Pritchard (Pac-12 Player of the year) – Oregon

Kris Wilkes – UCLA

McKinley Wright IV – Colorado

Jaylen Nowell – Washington

Bennie Boatwright – USC

Second Team

Jaylen Hands – UCLA

Brandon Williams – Arizona

Sedrick Barefield – Utah

Noah Dickerson – Washington

Bol Bol – Oregon

Third Team

Remy Martin – Arizona State

Matisse Thybulle – Washington

Ehab Amin – Oregon

Tres Tinkle – Oregon State

Moses Brown – UCLA

Five Best Freshmen

Brandon Williams – Arizona

Bol Bol – Oregon

Moses Brown – UCLA

Taeshon Cherry – Arizona State

Kevin Porter Jr. – USC

Five Best Newcomers

Ryan Luther – Arizona

Ehab Amin – Oregon

Chase Jeter – Arizona

Paris Austin – California

Charles Jones Jr. – Utah

Five Breakout Players

Brandon Randolph – Arizona

Jaylen Hands – UCLA

Remy Martin – Arizona State

Daejon Davis – Stanford

Kenny Wooten – Oregon

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