The annual preseason poll was conducted at Pac-12 Media Day on Tuesday morning. Part of the annual tradition is seeing Colorado picked to finish 8th place (or worse) then over-perform after Tad Boyle gets mad, but that’s not what happened here. Nope. Colorado is picked 2nd in the Pac-12.
The Buffs are not only picked second, but they are tied for first with 9 first-place votes. I thought all the hype surrounding CU Hoops was confined to Boulder and a few rouge publications, but apparently not. Media from around the conference have seen the Buffs grow from a feisty young team to experienced heavyweights.
Colorado returns everyone except from their main rotation, plus those guys are older, better and know exactly what they’re capable of. The stars are McKinley Wright and Tyler Bey, the break outs are Evan Battey and D’Shawn Schwartz, and the rest are either established role players or younger players waiting for their time.
In my schedule breakdown, I underrated Oregon, probably because I hate them. They’re picked first in the conference because Dana Altman is a really good coach, even if his team-building is sketchy at best. The Ducks return Payton Pritchard, their forever guard, and have a deep roster highlighted by UNLV transfer Shakur Juiston. It’s also Oregon so they will turn overlooked players into stars by season’s end.
Washington follows Colorado in the poll, but I’m still terrified of them. They lost Matisse Thybulle and Jaylen Nowell to the NBA, but Mike Hopkins is still there with that defense, even if this is a very young team. They famously brought in five-star recruits Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, the former of whom might win Pac-12 Player of the Year. They join the talented Naz Carter and Jamal Bey.
Arizona, USC and Arizona State round out the top 6. There’s a huge gap between ASU at 6 and Oregon State at 7, the former expects to be in the NCAA Tournament while the latter is hoping for the NIT. Each of the Wildcats, Trojans and Sun Devils could beat anyone in the conference, home or away, as all pose major problems.
With no clear cut favorite in the Pac-12, it could be a slugfest between those top 6 teams. The Buffs are the deepest and second most experienced (after ASU), so this hype could be for real.