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Where’s Bill Walton?! It’s time for some Pac-12 Basketball Talk!

College basketball has been sorely missed in my household this summer. I like the warmer weather and long days, but my favorite time the year runs from the end of October to the first couple weeks in April. Yes, football’s starting, and I love football, but there’s just a special place for college basketball in our household.

I’m starting to dive into how these teams are going to stack up this year, starting with the 6 power conferences, and moving on down after that. I’m planning a breakdown a week leading into my pre-season bracket release on halloween. Each of the conference articles are starting out as smaller previews and will get more detailed as we go, and I’ll be continually updating as information is available. My final rankings and prediction for the conference will come out closer to the start of the season. Please don’t hesitate to give me feedback on why a team deserves something different than I have them at. Unfortunately, this isn’t my full-time job and I don’t have enough time to deeply analyze each roster.

The data I’m using to help guide me comes from Bart Torvik’s predictions for the year, along with looking at stats from last year and recruiting rankings. Of course, these aren’t exact numbers and likely won’t be perfectly accurate in predicting the year, but it does give a baseline for each team’s outlook.

This year is the final year for the conference…. at least the conference as we know it, maybe something happens and the brand stays, but as we all know, next year only Oregon State and Washington State will remain, at least for now!

This year, traditional powers Arizona and UCLA look to win the final title, but some other contenders have emerged; it should be a fun year! One big thing is that there are a handful of hot seats IMO, and with all of the conference realignment stuff, some teams may look to move on to new coaches to lead them into their new conference.

  1. Arizona. Coming off of another upsetting loss in March, it’s time see some success in March from Lloyd, other than that, he’s been phenomenal! I see 6 guys who could start this year, and won’t try to predict who starts, but a big key to this year is going to be the play of Ballo and Love. Love played on a dysfunctional team last year, and I don’t believe that AZ will be that dysfunctional, and he should be able to play within the offense and not feel like he’s carrying the team. Aside from that, transfers Bradley and Johnson bring in some great experience who need to step up and play. The good thing? Bradley was on Alabama last year, who was a 1 seed, and Johnson was apart of the magical SDSU team who lost to UConn in the national championship! My biggest thing for this team is, yes they’re talented, but they have got to learn to play as a team, and someone’s going to have to accept Lloyds decision for them to come off of the bench. Lloyd can and will figure it out, but it’s a fun storyline coming into the year. NCAA tournament team, likely a protected seed and should fight to win the Pac-12!

  2. USC! I almost picked them to win the Pac-12, but I like what Arizona has just a little more! From the East coast, I feel like Isiah Collier has been kind of overshadowed with the arrival and health concerns of Bronny James! That being said, Collier will come in and immediately be a high impact guy! Another person who’s overshadowed is Boogie Ellis, and not because he’s not good or anything, but he’s “just returning”, but I expect big things from him! The same could be said about Kobe Johnson! I like the makeup of this team, and I really expect them to be really good! They’ll end up a single digit seed, probably around the 4-6 lines, and I could see them fighting higher than that!

  3. UCLA! I’m high on the international recruiting aspect that Cronin and others have deployed. With that, it means that there are going to be a ton of unknowns to start the year, but SUPER high potential! This is going to be a prove it year for Cronin, but I think he can prove it. The losses are going to really sting, but I think they can overcome that! Bona’s going to be the lynchpin of this team, and will have to carry them into the NCAA tournament, but keep an eye on these newcomers to make some noise! NCAA tournament team at minimum maybe fighting to win the Pac-12!

  4. Colorado! They’re kind of being slept on this year in the Pac-12, but they’re a sneaky good team. coming into the year! The personnel losses aren’t nearly as bad as the positivity they brought in this year! They have Cody Williams coming in highlighting a solid freshman class, and Eddie Lampkin from TCU coming in from the portal! I expect them to be solid this year, but they’re going to have to prove it on defense in my opinion! Having Silva and Simpson returning this year will really help them! Between Deion and the football program, and the Buffalo basketball team, it’s a good time to be in Boulder! NCAA tournament team this year!? I say yes.

  5. Washington. They’re likely to start 4 Grad students and a senior, which means they’ve got the experience that is vital to get off to a good start in college basketball! I’m banking on this team meshing well and Hopkins proving it as a coach this year! This team is portal made, with some sprinkles of the 4 key returners this year. Brooks/Meah highlight the returners, while Moses Wood/Paul Mulchay/Sahvir Wheeler make up the ultra talented and experienced transfer class! I look for the Huskies to get back into the tournament this year!

  6. Oregon. Altman may actually be on the hot seat this year, injuries killed them last year, and hopefully, that isn’t the case this year, A HUGE storyline this year is going to be the health of N’Faly Dante, and if he’s able to play all of his games this year! He’s the lynchpin of the team, but there are a couple returners at the guard spot, and a couple talented transfers who should help this team improve this year! They have the talent to make the NCAA tournament this year, but will they do it? It’s a very bubble team IMO!

  7. Cal! This is my sleeper this year! I very well could be wrong, but I like what Madsen built in the portal this year, and I think they’ll improve. Adding Cone gives them a high level scorer to build around, and I think this year could be really fun! The key to if they succeed comes down to Aimaq and Tyson IMO, they both have potential, but haven’t really played as well as they can, if they’re in the NCAAt this year, it’s because they showed out. I’ll say this is an NIT team for now with some upside!

  8. Utah. This is a team who should play well together from day one, because four starters return. That being said, the 9 new players are going to have to seamlessly transition into the program, and it’ll be really fun to see who cracks the rotation/starting lineup! I don’t rely on waivers to get approved, so I moved them from 7-8 due to Deivon Smith needing one to be eligible this year!

  9. Arizona State! This may be the last year that Hurley’s the coach, unless a major turnaround from expectations takes place… The last time I questioned a Hurley’s seat, he won a national title. Lol, no I’m not saying Hurley does that this year, but he needs to find a way into the NCAAT, and I don’t see it happening. Losing NINE players is chaotic to say the least, I have a lot of questions about this team, and don’t know how it’ll work out, but a lot of it is going to center around their guards. NIT team this year, and new conference next year may set up to find a new coach as well.

  10. Stanford! They managed to lose Harrison Ingram to the portal this year unfortunately, and I think this year is going to be the tipping point for Haase, make or break similar to Hurley above him. They have a solid freshman class coming in, and Jared Bynum is a tough, gritty player who should solidify their PG spot. This is an experienced team this year, and with that experience comes expectations. They need to do better than I have them ranked right now, and a lot of that is going to come from the perimeter this year, but don’t count out Raynaud down low to make a major impact! NIT would be successful this year!

  11. Washington State. Losing Bamba and Gueye really hurts the Cougars, but Yesufu looks to ease that pain! They need to shoot the ball well this year, and they have the potential to do so. Unfortunately, this team just didn’t have retention with several surprise departures this spring. Let’s see this portal class and freshman class come together and get back to the NIT! If not, is it the end of the Smith tenure?

  12. Oregon State! What, the 4th team in a row with a team on the hot seat, this is a do or die season for Tinkle, and I’ll admit it, I think it’s DONE. Injuries hurt this team last year, however, I’ve heard complaints about the NIL just not being good enough, so the Beavers are really at a disadvantage. This year is all about having their class from two years ago play out, and us seeing a massive freshman-sophomore jump. Can they it done? I don’t think so. Tinkle may be in a unwindable job this in the current climate, and this feels more so like a mild-major roster and recruiting class than it does a high-major team, however, anything can happen!

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