With the recruiting hauls pulled in by both Arizona and UCLA, many expect these two proud programs to give the Pac-12 a noticeable boost in 2012-13.
That includes the media who cover the conference apparently, as they’ve pegged the Wildcats and Bruins as the top two teams in the Pac-12 preseason media poll.
Arizona was their pick to win the conference, finishing with 15 first-place votes and 403 total points. But it was UCLA, who came in second with 402 points, that led the way in first-place votes with 16.
Following those two are the two Bay Area schools, as California was picked to finish third and Stanford fourth. Defending regular season champion Washington (fifth) and defending Pac-12 tournament champion Colorado (sixth) round out the top half of the poll.
1. Arizona (15) 403
2. UCLA (16) 402
3. California (3) 325
4. Stanford 296
5. Washington (2) 278
6. Colorado 262
7. Oregon 217
8. Oregon State 166
9. USC 163
10. Washington State 111
11. Arizona State 107
12. Utah 78
First place votes in parentheses
Two picks stick out in regards to being too low come March: Colorado and USC (ninth). The Buffaloes will have to rely on a young front court alongside junior forward Andre Roberson, but players such as forward Josh Scott, wing Xavier Johnson and guard Xavier Talton are talented.
As for USC, the Trojans were hit hard by injuries last season, and they’ll be helped by the return of Jio Fontan (torn ACL) and the addition of skilled transfers such as Ari Stewart, J.T. Terrell (both began their careers at Wake Forest) and Eric Wise (UC Irvine).
It can also be argued that Arizona State, picked to finish 11th, should be slotted ahead of a Washington State team (picked 10th) that may return Brock Motum but has a major question to answer at the point due to the dismissal of Reggie Moore.
Six Pac-12 teams open regular season play on November 9, including the reopening of Pauley Pavilion (Indiana State at UCLA) and Stanford taking on San Francisco at Oracle Arena in Oakland.