SAN FRANCISCO — In last year’s preseason Pac-12 media poll, the Arizona Wildcats were barely picked to win the conference title.
They barely missed, landing in a three-way tie for second, a game behind UCLA.
“We were picked to win the Pac by one vote over UCLA, and if you look at how it shook out … we were right there,” UA coach Sean Miller said last summer. “Miss a shot here or there and maybe it can go one way or another.”
There isn’t expected to be as much drama this year. When today’s media poll is announced at the Pac-12 media day in San Francisco, the Wildcats are likely to be made a heavy favorite to win.
Arizona has already been picked to win the league by preseason publications such as Athlon, Lindy’s, Sporting News and Blue Ribbon Yearbook, and is widely proclaimed as a top-10 team nationally.
Here’s the ballot we submitted to the Pac-12 for this year’s media poll:
1. Arizona. Four-plus years of dogged recruiting should finally pay off for Miller, who has his most talented roster yet and a true point guard in T.J. McConnell to direct everybody.
2. Colorado. Don’t let the loss of forward Andre Roberson fool you: This is a loaded team led by difficult-to-stop point guard Spencer Dinwiddie that also has a promising replacement for Roberson in Wesley Gordon.
3. Oregon. Nobody knows how to take advantage of college basketball’s transfer-mania better than Oregon coach Dana Altman, who brings in prizes Mike Moser (UNLV) and Joseph Young (Houston, pending an eligibility appeal) this time.
4. UCLA. New coach Steve Alford may have been a decidedly less sexy hire than Andy Enfield across town, but Alford has one of the Pac-12’s most talented starting fives.
5. California. Coach Mike Montgomery perennially keeps the Bears in the race even without homegrown talent, but now he has explosive Richmond (Calif.) guard Jabari Bird to replace Allen Crabbe.
6. Stanford. The Cardinal has size, athleticism, shooting and nearly everyone back … but they also did last season and only went 19-15 while losing in the second round of the NIT.
7. ASU. Jahii Carson could be the Pac-12 Player of the Year and a stream of transfers, led by former Penn State guard Jermaine Marshall, have upgraded his supporting cast.
8. Washington. The Huskies are vowing to find their old running and gambling ways, with more depth and athleticism on hand, but there’s still not much top-shelf talent to take pressure off guard C.J. Wilcox.
9. Oregon State. NBA prospect Eric Moreland is suspended through early January, and Devon Collier will miss a game, raising questions again about the chemistry of an otherwise experienced, capable team.
10. Utah. Coach Larry Krystkowiak turned his roster over again with freshmen and transfers, and it’s starting to pay off: Even though forward Jordan Loveridge is the Utes’ only full-time returning starter, the overall talent is upgraded.
11. USC. Enfield’s “Dunk City” style of play should fill more seats at the previously moribund Galen Center, but he doesn’t have the bodies on hand to pull it off fully just yet.
12. Washington State. Figuring out a way to replace Brock Motum inside was a big enough task already — and then the Cougars lost the true point guard they were counting on when Danny Lawhorn was suspended and then left the team earlier this month.