Apparently, Sean Miller & Co., will have to do a lot of good things to win the Pac-12 Conference this season. The preseason poll out this morning has Arizona finishing fifth this season.
Additionally, no Arizona player made the preseason all-conference first or second teams.
Miller said he thought the pick may have been too high, given the youth and inexperience of his team.
“We’ll find out when we start playing,” Miller said on a Zoom conference call with Pac-12 media officials. “Where we are in March is much more important than where we are now. Fifth was much higher than what I anticipated we lost 10 of our 13 scholarship players, all five starters.”
While Arizona is picked to finish fifth, for the first time since 2011-12, UCLA has been voted the favorite to win the conference.
“I don’t care what people think,” said UA guard Jemarl Baker. “I know we have a talented group. Everybody in our circle knows we have a talented group.”
Just 10 points separated the top three teams – UCLA, ARIZONA STATE and OREGON – in the poll, the closest vote among the top three in the 37-year history of Conference preseason picks.
The Bruins, who were ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press preseason top 25 earlier this week, collected nine first-place votes and 251 points to edge projected runner-up Arizona State – the AP preseason No. 18 Sun Devils garnered five first-place votes and 246 points to match their highest ever preseason prediction (2008-09 Media, 1985-86 Coaches).
Defending Pac-12 regular-season champion and AP preseason No. 20 ranked Oregon netted seven first-place votes and 241 points to slot in third.
Stanford picked up one first-place vote and 209 points to check in fourth, its highest appearance since 2012-13 (fourth), while UA (173 points) and USC (one first-place vote, 154 points) rounded out the top half of the poll. Colorado, Utah, Washington, California, Washington State and Oregon State completed the predicted order of finish.
Media have correctly picked the Conference winner 17 times in 31 tries, including five times in the Pac-12 era (since 2011-12), while the winner has been accurately chosen in 21 of the 36 all-time preseason votes.
Information for this story was provided by the Pac-12 Conference.