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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-12 Basketball Power Rankings: Sean Miller reloaded for new campaign

Arizona — Sure, the Wildcats lost their four top scorers from last year and incoming wingman Ray Smith to injury, but Sean Miller does not rebuild, he reloads.

This year’s a brand new year,” Miller said on media day. “I look at the conference and there are a number of teams that I think can win.”

So while Arizona may not dominate the Pac-12 Conference like in year’s past, the team still starts the season as the favorite.

Utah — While the loss of Delon Wright does hurt, Jakob Poeltl is still manning the middle for a ranked Utah team that will look to build off last year’s success. Beware of the Utes and the Jon M. Huntsman Center, where Utah finished 16-1 last season with its sole loss coming to … Arizona.

California — After missing the tourney last season, the Golden Bears have Final Four aspirations with their loaded recruiting class and return of star forward Tyrone Wallace. One of their touted recruits, Ivan Rabb, spurned Arizona in hopes of helping Cal knock off the top cats.

Oregon — The Ducks lost the (undeserved) Pac-12 Player of the Year in Joe Young, but still return senior Elgin Cook and sophomore Dillon Brooks, who were second and third, respectively, in scoring for Oregon last season.

Oregon State — The Beavers return the reigning (again, undeserved) Defensive Player of the Year in Gary Payton II and look to improve from last year’s seventh place finish in the Pac-12. Along with the addition of multiple four-star freshmen, the Beavers could potentially trim their losses to single digits this season.

UCLA — After sneaking into the NCAA Tournament last season, the Bruins made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen and return veterans Tony Parker and Bryce Alford to this year’s squad. They may improve from last year but as long as head coach Steve Alford allows his son to recklessly jack up shots, UCLA will continue to be inconsistent.

Stanford — The Cardinal ended last season strong as they finished on a five-game winning streak that culminated with the elusive NIT championship. Johnny Dawkins has his work cut out for him as it is always tough to repeat as champions, but the team did win the 2012 NIT too, so it must be in their blood.

Colorado — An injury-laden season snapped the Buffaloes’ tourney streak at three, but the Buffs should be better than last season. Josh Scott returns along with Wesley Gordon, so they will need to rely on the frontcourt.

ASU — The Sun Devils lost one of their best players in Shaquielle McKissic, but they return the Curtain of Distraction. So at least they have that. Former Duke Blue Devil Bobby Hurley now coaches ASU, in case you needed a reason to loathe them even more.

10 USC — The Trojans return all five starters, though they finished a measly 3-15 in the conference last year. So maybe that is not a good thing. This program has not been the same since Lil Romeo stopped hooping it up for the Trojans.

11 Washington — The Huskies started last season 11-0 and were well on their way to the tourney before losing 15 of their next 20 games to miss out on both March Madness and the NIT Tournament altogether. There isn’t much reason to believe anything different will happen this season, except for that 11 game win streak.

12 Washington State — The Cougars have the tough task of replacing the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer in DaVonté Lacy, but they have a bevy of junior college transfers to attempt to fill the void. Josh Hawkinson is returning after averaging a double-double last season, so there should not be too much pessimism in Pullman.


Follow Ivan Leonard on Twitter.


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