A clear-cut favorite based on one of the most frightening starting fives in recent Pac-12 memory. The size of Aaron Gordon, Brandon Ashley, and Kaleb Tarczewski at the three, four, and five is simply unfair.
I’m higher on Oregon than most. A ton of their most important contributors may be transfers who’ve recently joined the program, but in the case of starters like forward Mike Moser and guard Joseph Young, we’re talking about proven veteran players. Moser had a down year last year but averaged a double-double in 2011. Young scored 18 points a game last year in Houston. Guys like Kazemi and Singler are gone, but with a core of Artis, Young and Moser, Oregon will improve.
Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams could both end up on the All Pac-12 first team. I just don’t have the confidence to project them to repeat as Pac-12 champions until I see how the team plays under Steve Alford.
The Buffaloes disappointed last season and they lost Andre Roberson to the NBA. Luckily for them, the conference experiences a bit of drop off after the top three, and I see Colorado as floating somewhere in the space between competing for a conference title or sinking into mediocrity.
I’m optimistic about the boost Washington will get from incoming players, both freshmen and newly eligible transfers. Nigel Williams-Goss will likely start as a true freshman, Perris Blackwell will certainly start in his redshirt senior season after sitting out a year due to transfer, and guys like Darin Johnson, Mike Anderson, and Gilles Dierickx will add depth in their first year on the court. C.J. Wilcox, Shawn Kemp, and Andrew Andrews return healthy and hopefully one year improved. This year may not include a return to the NCAA tournament, but the team will improve as the year goes on.
6. Arizona State
Jahii Carson is the best scorer in the conference and Jordan Bachynski is an elite shot blocking center. The loss of Carrick Felix hurts, but Coach Sendek has two invaluable pieces to build his team around and only a single year window to make it work.
Lost Allen Crabbe but added a bigtime freshman contributor in Jabari Bird, and Justin Cobbs may be ready to step out of Crabbe’s shadow in his senior season.
Just about everyone returns for Stanford, and that could mean this is finally the year for Stanford. I just don’t think so.
Utah hoops, mediocrity, 9th place finish out of 12. These are things that seem right together.
I do not yet trust Andy Enfield.
11. Oregon State
Leading scorer Robert Nelson returns but Ahmad Starks and Eric Moreland do not. The team might replace lost talent successfully, but I doubt they’ll grow much past last year’s mediocrity. How long can Craig Robinson last?
12. Washington State
Imagine last year’s team without Brock Motum. How long can Ken Bone last?