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Arizona Overwhelming Choice To Win Pac-12; Oregon St. Solidly Last

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Oregon St.'s Langston Morris-Walker and coach Wayne Tinkle talk to the press at Pac-12 Media Day.
Oregon St.'s Langston Morris-Walker and coach Wayne Tinkle talk to the press at Pac-12 Media Day.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The preseason media poll of the Pac-12 mens' basketball race was announced today at Pac-12 Media Day in San Francisco, and Arizona is a near unanimous choice to defend their conference title, garnering all but 1 of the 32 first place votes.

Utah got the nod by the narrowest of margins, 1 point, or 1 position on 1 ballot, over Colorado for second, a substantial margin behind the 'Cats. The Utes and Buffs in turn had a comfortable margin over UCLA. The Bruins got the lone first place vote that Arizona didn't garner.

Oregon St. with a roster that will feature almost as many walk-ons as scholarship players, are a consensus pick for last place, though they did get 13 points more than the minimum, and 11th place Washington St didn't quite get twice as many points.

"I had to get my old butt out there to go 5-on-5, and pulled a hamstring one day, inflamed an Achilles maybe the next, so we're glad that we have them," Tinkle said.

"Walk-ons in my mind are very important to your program," Tinkle added. "They're the ones that are really giving everything they got, so when a scholarship guy maybe thinks he's a little special in his role, you can remind him about the guy next to him that's gotta take out student loans and that sort of thing to be out there on the floor."

"Fundamentally, I think we believe and have some of the same philosophies. Roll up your sleeves, outwork your opponent, be honest, forthright with your values and vision when you're recruiting," Tinkle said. "Same philosophy that Scott [Rueck] (who built an NCAA tournament team from having walk-on tryouts in 4 years with the Oregon St. women's team, picked to finish 3rd this year) has, Pat Casey with the baseball program, Mike Riley with football. We're not going to change the way we've done things."

Stanford is a solid pick for 5th, but there was another split decision for 6th, with Washington a single point ahead of 7th place California.

Oregon is 8th, a narrow 4 points ahead of 9th place Arizona St., with USC solidly in 10th, well behind the Sun Devils, but also well ahead of the Cougars.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com