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The 2019-2020 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball season is set to begin on November 5, 2019. While practices will begin in late September, it isn’t too early to take a peak at who are the early favourites for each conference.
A collegiate athletic conference based out of San Francisco, California, the Pac-12 participates in 24 different sports across the Division I, NCAA level. Of the conferences twelve members, ten are public universities while two are private research facilities.
Arizona State boasts the highest enrolment at 71, 946. The smallest affiliated school in the conference is privately operated Stanford, with an enrolment of 16, 336.
The Pac-12 is known as the conference of champions. Its members have won more NCAA national championships than any conference in history. Washington’s title in women’s rowing was the 500th championship by a Pac-12 school.
The Pac-12 is an incredibly competitive conference. As per the last couple of years, the likes of Oregon, Arizona, and Washington lead the pack. Who will come out on top will be based on the success of their individual pieces.
Coach: Dana Altman
Record: 25-13 (10-8, 4th in Pac-12)
PS/G: 70.0 (251st of 353), PA/G: 62.2 (12th of 353)
Payton Pritchard “THROWS IT DOWN” pic.twitter.com/0U8BwKM5kV
— Kevin Wade (@KwadeSays) March 17, 2019
The Oregon Ducks weren’t fortunate when it came to their roster maintenance. While Bol Bol was expected to leave for the draft immediately, they did not expect Louis King and Kenny Wooten to do the same.
Their losses have forced many pre-season rankings to not give them any top 25 consideration, but they are still the betting favourite going into the season. Those odds are mostly influenced by the fact that Oregon has taken part in six of the last seven NCAA tournaments.
There is some hope, as now-Senior guard Payton Pritchard will be returning to Dana Altman’s lineup. They will also receive a significant boost from five-star freshman recruit CJ Walker and grad-transfer Shakur Juiston.
Coach: Sean Miller
Record: 17-15 (8-10, 8th in Pac-12)
PS/G: 70.9 (223rd of 353), PA/G: 68.9 (108th of 353)
“Big-time players are supposed to make big-time plays.”
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 22, 2019
There is nowhere to go but up for the Arizona Wildcats. By the end of last March, Arizona tallied its worst record in more than thirty years. Despite that, optimism is high going into the season as the Wildcats expect to be back in the running for a Final Four berth.
Nico Mannion looks to be running the show when the season tips off. It was a great blow when it was announced that guard Brandon Williams would miss the entire season due to injury. After a solid freshman campaign, Williams will be missed.
The Wildcats do welcome the likes of grad-transfer Max Hazzard though. As the star of UC Irvine’s upset over Kansas State in last years NCAA tournament, expectations are high. Sean Miller was also able to recruit Zack Nnaji and Josh Green, who will likely combine to form the best front court in the Pac-12.
Coach: Mike Hopkins
Record: 27-9 (15-3, 1st in Pac-12)
PS/G: 69.8 (256th of 353), PA/G: 64.8 (30th of 353)
— Overtime (@overtime) May 22, 2019
Washington is coming off of a brilliant season. Not only did the Huskies win the Pac-12 title, but they won their first ten conference games and finished a full three games ahead of second place Arizona State.
Mike Hopkins will have his hands full though, as his top four scorers from last season are no longer with the team. Hopkins will hope that his two five-star recruits – Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart – will be able to help fill the void.
The Huskies will also welcome coveted transfer Quade Green from Kentucky. And expanded role for him as well as the return of guard Nahziah Carter will be a huge boost to their side.
Don’t sleep on these teams, but also don’t bet too heavy on them. Their odds of success may generate great return, but instability makes their finish difficult to predict.
Coach: Bobby Hurley
Record: 23-11 (12-6, 2nd in Pac-12)
PS/G: 77.6 (58th of 353), PA/G: 73.4 (232nd of 353)
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 9, 2019
Bobby Hurley is an NCAA legend as a player, but as a coach his results have been rather inconsistent. Despite that the Sun Devils have made the NCAA tournament for the last two seasons.
Arizona State will miss the contributions of Zylan Cheatham and Luguentz Dort. However it will be a huge opportunity for junior guard Remy Martin, who is yet to live up to expectations for the Sun Devils.
Their strength will lie in the continuity of their side. While their top-billed players are gone, the Sun Devils will still sport a starting lineup of experiences players. Jaelen House is also a talented incoming freshman who is likely to push for a starting position early.
Coach: Tad Boyle
Record: 23-13 (10-8, 4th in Pac-12)
PS/G: 73.6 (145th of 353), PA/G: 67.5 (66th of 353)
There he goes.
Tyler Bey ➡️ DUNK.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) February 24, 2019
Colorado was on a streak of all streaks to close out their season last year. After winning ten of their last thirteen matches, the Buffaloes were able to claim a pair of NIT before losing to champions Texas in the quarterfinals.
While Colorado has failed to win a match in the NCAA tournament since 1955, their current outlook is positive. Based on the fact that a large amount of their key pieces from last years run are returning.
As with last year, Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright form one of the most dangerous guard-big tandems in the conference. After a successful previous season, Tad Boyle will hope his team can overcome last years issues.
Coach: Andy Enfield
Record: 16-17 (8-10, 8th in Pac-12)
PS/G: 76.3 (80th of 353), PA/G: 73.0 (219th of 353)
Bennie Boatwright ➡️ Nick Rakocevic DUNK. ??
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) February 17, 2019
The Trojans are coming off of one of their toughest years in recent history. With a sub-.500 record to close out the season, USC failed to live up to expectations. They enter this year with the same confidence, but hope to finish with fewer injuries and issues off the court.
The Trojans are expected to feed off of their impressive inside-outside game. With Nik Rakocevic manning the paint, it will be up to his complementary pieces to convert on open opportunities.
USC now touts both Mobley brothers, the younger Evan being the top overall player in the class of 2020. They will also welcome grad-transfer Quinton Adlesh to bring new enthusiasm into the team. They’re strong on paper, but they’ll need to prove their quality as last years finish has many skeptical.
Coach: Larry Krystkowiak
Record: 17-14 (11-7, 3rd in Pac-12)
PS/G: 75.6 (98th of 353), PA/G: 74.5 (258th of 353)
— Utah Basketball? (@UtahMBB) August 27, 2019
The Utes don’t expect to compete for the national championship, or even the title this year. After a 17-14 finish last season, there isn’t much to suggest that they might compete for the top of the conference this year.
Larry Krystkowiak is an excellent coach, but he is long removed from his front court led by Jakob Poeltl. Krystkowiak has historically performed well when the cards aren’t in his favour.
Unfortunately, the Utes saw four of their top scorers leave their side. They also struggle to field a consistent force in the backcourt or at the pivot. Two positions that define Krystkowiak’s style of play.
Coach: Murry Bartow (10-10), Steve Alford (7-6)
Record: 17-16 (9-9, 7th in Pac-12)
PS/G: 78.2 (51st of 353), PA/G: 77.8 (321st of 353)
— Overtime (@overtime) August 13, 2019
UCLA reloaded their roster from the head coaching position this year. Out goes Steve Alford and in comes Mick Cronin. Cronin fielded a capable defensive side with Cincinnati in years past, but how will that fare with his new squad?
A lot is up in the air for the Bruins, mostly due to the new coach involved. They will welcome point guard Tyger Campbell and Shareef O’Neal, who sat out their freshman years due to injury.
UCLA is usually an offensive powerhouse, so the introduction of Cronin will be a culture shock for fans and players alike. The talent is there, but whether or not the team can buy-in for immediate success is still up for debate.
Not much is expected of teams in this bracket. Not only are the odds against them, but a lack of combined talent projects them to finish low in the table.
Coach: Wayne Tinkle
Record: 18-13 (10-8, 4th in Pac-12)
PS/G: 73.4 (152nd of 353), PA/G: 69.8 (136th of 353)
— Go Beavs (@BeaverAthletics) August 13, 2019
The Beavers finished fourth in the Pac-12 last year. An impressive feat, followed by their showing in the NCAA tournament where they failed to win a match.
While Oregon State hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament match since the early eighties, their backcourt still provides hope for success.
Scorer Tres Tinkle will play an additional year under his father and projects to be one of the PAC-12’s top players. Having guard Ethan Thompson join him for a consecutive season is excellent for continuity, but will have to translate into wins.
Coach: Jerod Haase
Record: 15-16 (8-10, 8th in Pac-12)
PS/G: 72.7 (164th of 353), PA/G: 71.8 (188th of 353)
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) February 17, 2019
To say that Jerod Haase is on the hot seat would be an understatement. Usually a perennial qualifier for the top spot in the PAC-12, Stanford finished with a sub-.500 record last season.
In fact, Haase has failed to accumulate a plus-.500 over his three year tenure. Their lack of participation in the NCAA tournament has been felt by both the players and the board.
With star man Reid Travis transferring to Kentucky, Josh Sharma graduating, and top-scorer KZ Okpala leaving for the NBA, not much seems to be in favour of the Cardinal. Incoming four-star recruit Tyrell Terry has quite a load of expectations on his shoulders to produce.
Coach: Wyking Jones
Record: 8-23 (3-15, 12th in Pac-12)
PS/G: 68.4 (279th of 353), PA/G: 77.0 (307th of 353)
Congratulations to Joel Brown (@jabrown_3 ) as he commits to The University of California-Berkeley ?
Joel is one of the top point guards in the Class of 2019 with elite passing ability and is also one of the quickest guards in the class! pic.twitter.com/gIpF5SSnYc
— NPH (@NorthPoleHoops) October 2, 2018
The Golden Bears were awful last season. Not only were they last in the PAC-12, but they were considered one of the worst teams in any mid-major conference. They did upset champion Washington, but there is a lot to improve upon.
Changes started at the top, where Wyking Jones was replaced with Mark Fox. Unfortunately for Fox, his top two scorers chose to transfer out of his program.
Paris Austin and Kareem South look to have starring roles going forward. Meanwhile Canadian freshman Joel Brown looks to make an immediate impact as the teams highest rated recruit.
Coach: Ernie Kent
Record: 11-21 (4-14, 11th in Pac-12)
PS/G: 74.8 (116th of 353), PA/G: 78.7 (331st of 353)
Hard to believe it’s already been a week and half since summer training on campus ended. Excited for the team to get back and the upcoming season! @WSUCougarMBB @WSUCougars
Video by @KathleenZim pic.twitter.com/LFLLikw6an
— COUG_Strong (@StrongCoug) August 7, 2019
Kyle Pullman made himself famous by looking to usher in what he referred to as Nerd-Ball. While that’s a fun concept, wins are needed in any way possible for the Cougars to climb out of their hole.
The Cougars are coming into the season with a shockingly different roster. With seven players leaving due to a combination of transfer or graduation, Pullman will have a near-new squad to influence.
As per usual, their recruiting efforts weren’t strong. However incoming transfer Deion James looks to make an impact in his senior year. A trio of lower-tier transfers also round out their newcomers, who look to add a renewed outlook to their side.
The Pac-12 is loaded at the top. Oregon, Arizona, and Washington all look to remain the forces that they have been historically.
UCLA is an interesting outlier, with a slew of new talent and coaching ripe to take on the challenges of the conference.
Expect a top-heavy year from the Pac-12. While the likes of Washington State, Cal, and Stanford are hopeful, the talent disparity is too great to make an impact.
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We’ll be previewing every major conference going into the NCAA season! Check out our preview for the Big 12 Conference.
Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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