The Pac-12 conference is coming off a season to forget but could be in store for a season to remember. With 2 traditional powers on the way back to the top of the college game the Pac-12 has a lot of talent coming in for the 2012-2013 basketball season.
Arizona and UCLA have retooled their teams and look to fight for the PAC-12 title this season after missing the tournament 2 out of the last 3 seasons for each school. Both teams have top of the line recruiting classes coming in to play alongside already talented rosters. It is conceivable that we could see either or possibly both of these squads playing at the Final Four in Atlanta.
The rest of the Pac-12 has a good amount of talent as well. California, Colorado, Stanford and Washington look talented enough to make the NCAA tournament as well. Even though the other Pac-12 schools do not look to have enough talent to make the tournament they will without a doubt be formidable conference foes all season long. So here is how it all stacks up:
1. Arizona Wildcats:
The Wildcats are the deepest team in the Pac-12 and one of the deepest teams in the nation. They will go 10 deep with a legitimate backup set at every position. Solomon Hill is the leader of this team and could have a shot at being Pac-12 player of the year. He could dominate defenders with his move back to his natural position at small forward. Mark Lyons will be a very important addition at the point guard spot, he will distribute the ball to the talented big men and will score when needed. The talented freshmen quartet of Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jarrett, Brandon Ashley, and Gabe York will all start playing from day 1 in Tucson and will produce big numbers. The Wildcats have all of the ability to make a deep run not only in the Pac-12 but also in the NCAA tournament.
The Bruins have 2 of the best recruits in the nation playing for them this season. Well, at least they are hoping that they will be playing. Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson will lead the Bruins against all opponents this season if they are cleared by the NCAA to play. If cleared, Muhammad is the front runner for Pac-12 player of the year. He is an elite scorer who should dominate at this level and then move on to brighter pastures. Anderson is an elite playmaker and a nightmare matchup for any team in the country. Add that to the best frontcourt in the conference with the Wear twins, “Big” Josh Smith, and talented Freshman Tony Parker and the Bruins are ready for a big season. Note: as of this writing the Bruins have had a rash of injuries including Muhammad (shoulder and ankle), David Wear (ankle) and Tyler Lamb (knee)
3. California Golden Bears
Cal is the third best team in the conference thanks to their backcourt. Allen Crabbe is an outstanding player and could easily lead the conference in scoring. Justin Cobbs, Brandon Smith, and incoming Freshmen Tyrone Wallace will round out the extremely talented backcourt. Cobbs will help carry the scoring burden with Crabbe and Smith will provide veteran minutes but watch for Wallace, he may lead the Pac12 in assists very soon. This team will play tough all season and will receive an NCAA tournament appearance.
Colorado is another Pac 12 team that will make the NCAA tournament. The Buffaloes should do this because of future NBA lottery pick Andre Roberson. Roberson will dominate defensively and on the boards all season while allowing the backcourt of Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker to facilitate and score. Add in highly touted freshmen Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson and you have a very solid core.
5. Stanford Cardinal
The Cardinal return 4 starters from last season’s NIT championship squad. Chasson Randle is a sophomore that has a lot of upside and will battle Crabbe for the conference scoring title all season long. The team rebounding and defensive play is above average and as a whole this group plays well together. Add in a couple of talented freshmen in Rosco Allen and Grant Verhoeven and you have an NCAA tournament team.
The Huskies will be an interesting team this season after losing talented players to the NBA. The Huskies still have sweet shooting CJ Wilcox and distributer Abdul Gaddy in the backcourt. Seven footer Aziz N’Diaye is a monster on the glass as well so the Huskies will be able to shoot at will and know the bigs will remain active on all misses. Coach Romar will find other superstars as usual in his 8 sophomores and freshman on the roster, he always does.
The remainder of the Pac-12 should look like this, with all 6 teams falling short of the NCAA tournament
7. Oregon Ducks
8. USC Trojans
9. Oregon State Beavers
10. Washington State Cougars
12. Utah Utes