The Pac-12 basketball Media Day will be held Thursday, so let me join the chorus of preseason predictions.
First off, it’s hard. This is the best the league has been since it produced 13 first-round picks in 2008 and 2009. Get ready for everyone to hit the “Pac-12 is back!” theme in the next few weeks.
Recently, when you predicted a team to finish seventh in the league, it was because that team was merely the best of the worst in a mediocre conference. Now, any team you pick for seventh is NCAA Tournament worthy.
No argument at the top, though. Arizona is the clear favorite.
After that … perhaps it’s time to throw darts. Here are my tosses:
Sean Miller has things rolling, and he’s just getting started on a long run of deep NCAA Tournament thrill rides.
Buffs will miss first-rounder Andre Roberson inside, but not much else. Four starters return for coach Tad Boyle to renew what is becoming a fun rivalry with the Cats.
Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and the Wear twins (back for their 14th year in college) lead a dangerous, albeit not deep, team for first-year coach Steve Alford.
Still waiting on the eligibility status of high-scoring Houston guard Joseph Young, but Transfer U will have forward Mike Moser (UCLA, UNLV) ready to go. Backcourt in good shape with Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson.
Coach Johnny Dawkins makes a stand for his job with a strong core of four returning starters. If only the Cardinal can improve on the league’s worst shooting percentage …
6. Arizona State
The Sun Devils have to make a move now with point guard Jahii Carson and get to the first NCAA Tournament since the James Harden days.
Never like to put a team coached by Mike Montgomery this low, and he has a talented group of newcomers, led by Jabari Bird, as he reloads again.
A wave of newcomers could carry the Huskies much higher, especially if freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss is as good as advertised.
The Trojans aren’t overly talented but will be must-see under coach Andy Enfield. “Dunk City” will out-Hollywood the cross-town rival Bruins.
10. Oregon State
That’s a formidable frontcourt of Eric Moreland, Devon Collier and Angus Brandt, if they’ll all healthy and back from suspension. Guard Roberto Nelson is one of the best scorers in the league.
Even way down here in the predictions is a team that can make steady improvement, at least, building around sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge.
12. Washington State
Pretty easy choice here. The Cougars were 4-14 in the Pac-12 last season and lost all-conference forward Brock Motum.