According to the media that cover Pac-12 men’s basketball Arizona will have some work to do to win the conference title. Arizona was picked to finish fourth in the conference.
Today is media day in San Francisco.
For the second time in the past three seasons, OREGON has been chosen the favorite to win the Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball title in a vote of media members who cover the league.
Oregon, which was a first-time league favorite ahead of the 2016-17 campaign, received 16-of-25 first-place votes and 288 points to sit atop the 2018-19 preseason poll.
The Ducks return a pair of starters, highlighted by Second Team All-Pac-12 point guard Payton Pritchard, and add a top-5 recruiting class headlined by five-star freshmen Bol Bol and Louis King.
With the Ducks’ women’s program also tabbed the 2018-19 Pac-12 favorite, it marks the first time in Conference history that both basketball preseason polls have been topped by the same school.
Four different programs received first-place votes in the poll, the most since five teams collected at least one in advance of the 2015-16 campaign.
UCLA, which like Oregon returns two starters and adds a top-5 recruiting class, received six first-place votes en route to being picked second with 264 points. It’s the highest preseason ranking for the Bruins since being picked runner-up ahead of 2013-14.
WASHINGTON garnered a pair of first-place votes and 249 points to come in third, its highest preseason prediction since being picked to win the league crown in 2010-11. The Huskies boast the most returning production of any major conference program in the country with all five starters back from last year’s 21-win team.
ARIZONA secured the final first-place vote and 205 points to place fourth, its lowest Conference preseason ranking since 2009-10. The Wildcats lost their entire starting lineup from last season’s Pac-12 regular-season and tournament title team, but have revamped their roster led by the addition of Duke transfer and former McDonald’s All-American Chase Jeter.
USC and ARIZONA STATE completed the top half of the preseason poll in fifth and sixth, respectively. The Trojans are in the midst of the winningest stretch in program history with 71 victories over the past three seasons, including 24 in 2017-18, while the Sun Devils hit the 20-win plateau and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four seasons last year.
COLORADO, UTAH, STANFORD, OREGON STATE, CALIFORNIA and WASHINGTON STATE completed the predicted order of finish. Media have correctly picked the Conference winner 16 times in 29 tries, while the winner has been accurately chosen in 20 of the 34 all-time preseason votes.
Four Pac-12 teams – Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and Washington – appear on several national media outlets’ preseason top 25 rankings for the 2018-19 campaign.
Four All-Freshman Team selections, three All-Conference performers and a pair of All-Defensive team honorees from last season are slated to return to the league for 2018-19. Additionally, six NBA Draft early-entry candidates elected to return to Pac-12 programs, highlighted by First Team All-Conference pick Noah Dickerson (Washington), All-Rookie Team member Kris Wilkes (UCLA) and reigning Pac-12 Most Improved Player Robert Franks (Washington State).
Pac-12 programs also boast eight of the top 40 recruiting classes in the country according to 247Sports, including three in the top 11 (Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State), as well as the second-most top 50 (10) and top 100 (19) commitments of any league.
The Pac-12 regular season tips off with seven games on Tuesday, Nov. 6, the first official contest pitting a pair of NCAA Tournament teams in ARIZONA STATE and Cal State Fullerton on Pac-12 Networks at 5 p.m. PT. Opening week will also feature the fourth annual Pac-12 China Game between CALIFORNIA and Yale on ESPNU at 8 p.m. PT on Friday, Nov. 9 (with immediate re-air on ESPN2 at 10:15 p.m. PT), as well as a pair of early Pac-12 vs. SEC showdowns with WASHINGTON visiting Auburn on Nov. 9 and USC hosting Vanderbilt on Sunday, Nov. 11.
Pac-12 regular-season play begins on Thursday, Jan. 3 and culminates March 13-16 with the 2019 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
2018-19 PAC-12 MEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
TEAM (first-place votes) – POINTS
1. Oregon (16) – 288 points
2. UCLA (6) – 264
3. Washington (2) – 249
4. Arizona (1) – 205
5. USC – 203
6. Arizona State – 165
7. Colorado – 161
8. Utah – 122
9. Stanford – 109
10. Oregon State – 102
11. California – 45
12. Washington State – 37