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BTD Pac-12 Basketball Pre-Season Poll

Oregon enters the season as the favorite. How does the Pac-12 play out behind the Ducks?

Holy Cross v Oregon
After last year’s trip to the Elite Eight, Oregon remains the favorite in the Pac-12.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Although, we’re still deep into the college football season, we decided to kick-off our college basketball coverage here at Building The Dam with the debut of our own “Pac-12 Basketball Pre-Season Poll”. Take a look below to see who are the teams to beat, who could be a dangerous wildcard outfit and of course, where Oregon State looks to be slated in the thick of things.

The Voters:
Brian J. Moore
David Mays
Donald B. Jordan
Marcus Russell
Mitch Heath
The_Coach

1. Oregon Ducks [72 Points]

Last Season: 31-7 (14-4) | Post-Season: NCAA Tournament Elite Eight

Coming off a trip to the Elite Eight, the Ducks (unfortunately) didn’t lose a whole lot in terms of talent and (also unfortunately) are going to be really, really good. Adding the top JUCO transfer in the country, Kavell Bigby-Williams, to their roster will add some length and makes the Ducks an early favorite to win the Pac-12. The USA Today Coaches Poll has them at number 5 this year, but I wouldn’t expect them to stay in the top ten following their trip to the Maui Invitational in November where they have drawn Georgetown in the first round, followed by the winner of the Tennessee/Wisconsin matchup. (Mitch Heath)

Key Games: 11/15 at Baylor, 11/21 v. Georgetown*, 11/22 v. Tennessee/Wisconsin*

2. Arizona Wildcats [68 Points]

Last Season: 25-9 (12-6) | Post-Season: NCAA Tournament First Round

Entering head coach Sean Miller’s eighth season in Tucson, the Arizona program has virtually accomplished just about everything possible during Miller’s tenure, except reaching the hallowed grounds of a Final Four. Through the past few seasons, it’s been one of the few criticisms of Miller’s otherwise untouchable program. Will 2016-2017 be the season where Arizona finally makes the Final Four breakthrough? Or will the mounting expectations from a rabid fan base end up spoiling another Wildcats roster? If Miller’s group is to reach the last weekend of the season in early April, they’ll need significant contributions from returning talents in Allonzo Trier, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Dusan Ristic, Kadeem Allen and Ray Smith, as well as some serious impact from newcomers Kobi Simmons, Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Alkins. (The_Coach)

Key Games: 11/11 v. Michigan State*, 12/3 v. Gonzaga*, 12/17 v. Texas A&M*

3. UCLA Bruins [54 Points]

Last Season: 15-17 (6-12) | Post-Season: None

It might seem a bit strange to think that head coach Steve Alford is coaching for his job in just his fourth season in Westwood but after last year’s 15-17 debacle of a season, the heat under his coaching seat has only begun to intensify. In his first two seasons with the program, Alford guided two transaction-heavy Bruins rosters to back-to-back Sweet Sixteens, but even that level of success hasn’t been enough to tame a furious fan-base. Remember, this is a UCLA program that fired head coach Ben Howland immediately following a Pac-12 Championship and NCAA Tournament campaign back in 2013, just five seasons after also reaching the last of three consecutive trips to the Final Four. If UCLA is to develop into an NCAA Tournament caliber group, the Bruins will have to rely heavily on the quarter of Bryce Alford, Lonzo Ball, Isaac Hamilton and T.J. Leaf. (The_Coach)

Key Games: 12/3 at Kentucky, 12/10 v. Michigan, 12/17 v. Ohio State*

4. Colorado Buffaloes [52 Points]

Last Season: 22-12 (10-8) | Post-Season: NCAA Tournament First Round

The Buffaloes didn’t lose a whole lot either and are the trendy pick to emerge as the second or third best team in the conference. After early round exits in consecutive trips to the tournament, head coach and very angry person, Tad Boyle, will be relying mostly on youth and key JUCO transfer in the front court, Derrick White. CU lost leading rebounder and scorer Josh Scott and will have a hard time replacing those points and boards. Pending they can find a way to be successful without Scott, look for the Buffaloes to be flirting with the Top 20 sometime around January in the thick of Pac-12 play. (Mitch Heath)

Key Games: 11/21 v. Notre Dame*, 11/22 v. Northwestern/Texas*, 12/7 v. Xavier

5. California Golden Bears [50 Points]

Last Season: 23-11 (12-6) | Post-Season: NCAA Tournament First Round

The Cal Bears were 23-11 overall and 12-6 in conference in 2015-16, which they finished tied for third. They entered the NCAA Tournament as a 4 seed, as they were upset by the 13 seed Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. Talented Guard Jabari Byrd enters his Senior season averaging 10.4 points per game last season. Many thought the 6'11 Sophomore Forward Ivan Rabb would enter the NBA Draft after his Freshman season. Rabb decided to return to Cal, and he averaged 12.5 points per game. Expect Rabb to be one of the PAC 12 best players at seasons end, as he was becoming a dominant player in the paint late last season. The Bears have high hopes for the quick incoming Point Guard Charlie Moore. Head Coach Cuonzo Martin enters his third season at Cal with a 41-26 overall record. Martin is a fabulous recruiter and has done a solid job at Cal. (Brian J. Moore)

Key Games: 11/21 v. San Diego State*, 12/7 v. Seton Hall*, 12/21 v. Virginia

6. Oregon State Beavers [42 Points]

Last Season: 19-13 (9-9) | Post-Season: NCAA Tournament First Round

During the 2015-16 Season, Oregon State made an appearance in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990. Gary Payton was the Beavers "do-everything" player last season, but he graduated, and the Beavers look to fill the huge void that Payton II filled. The Beavers are led by a trio of stud Sophomores in Forward Tres Tinkle, Guard Stephen Thompson Jr., and Forward/Center Drew Eubanks. The Beavers have high expectations for Center Gligorije Rakocevic. In addition, there are high expectations for Freshman Guard JaQuori McLaughlin. The Beavers were picked 9th in the PAC 12 Media Poll. Head Coach Wayne Tinkle has done a fabulous job with this program. He is 36-27 overall record as he enters his third year at Oregon State. (Brian J. Moore)

Key Games: 11/18 at Nevada, 12/16 v. Long Beach State*, 12/1 at Mississippi State

7. Washington Huskies [38 Points]

Last Season: 19-15 (9-9) | Post-Season: NIT Second Round

The Huskies lost a lot of talent this offseason. NBA first round draft picks Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss are gone and so is leading scorer Andrew Andrews. Head coach Lorenzo Romar has a knack for reloading with top talent and has once again delivered, bringing in freshman guard Markelle Fultz, who is likely going to be a top-5 pick in next years NBA draft. Despite the talented recruiting classes Washington has struggled to put it together on the court, failing to reach the NCAA tournament for five straight years. Many are optimistic that this team will play better as a unit and make it to the big dance though. (Marcus Russell)

Key Games: 11/26 v. UNLV/TCU*, 11/30 at TCU, 12/7 at Gonzaga

8. USC Trojans [30 Points]

Last Season: 21-13 (9-9) | Post-Season: NCAA Tournament First Round

At the conclusion of last year’s NCAA Tournament season, the Trojans were expected to be a conference contender heading into the 2016-2017 season. USC would have a loaded roster that graduated just one senior, in the scarcely-used forward, Strahinja Gavrilovic. Then, the chaos of the college basketball off-season occurred. Head coach Andy Enfield had to deal with the puzzling decisions of Julian Jacobs and Nikola Jovanovic entering their names in the NBA Draft, before also losing four featured pieces to transfer, in Katin Reinhardt (Marquette), Malik Marquette (Louisiana-Lafayette), Darion Clark (Grand Canyon) and Malik Martin (USF). Now, USC must restart with a new mix of pieces in tow. The good news for the Trojans is that star guard Jordan McLaughlin is still on campus, as is forward Bennie Boatwright, who is expected to have one of the biggest individual breakthrough seasons in the conference. Look for junior guard Elijah Stewart and Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron to also become high-impact players on this roster. (The_Coach)

Key Games: 11/18 at Texas A&M, 11/25 v. SMU, 12/3 v. BYU*

9. Utah Utes [29 Points]

Last Season: 27-9 (13-5) | Post-Season: NCAA Tournament Second Round

The Utah Utes are coming off a successful season where they earned a No. 3-seed in the NCAA tournament and advanced to the second round. Many are expecting them to take a step back though after losing lottery pick Jakob Poeltl and second leading scorer Jordan Loveridge. The Utes are also dealing with the loss six scholarship players due to transfer since the beginning of the 2015-16 season. But, Utah does return talented power forward, Kyle Kuzma and will fill in the gaps with a few incoming transfers of their own. Larry Krystkowiak has led Utah to three consecutive 20-win seasons and tournament berths, so it would be unwise to bet against him getting the most out of this team. (Marcus Russell)

Key Games: 11/28 v. Butler, 12/10 at Xavier, 12/22 v. San Francisco*

10. Stanford Cardinal [19 Points]

Last Season: 15-15 (8-10) | Post-Season: None

The Cardinal were expected to return virtually a whole roster to Palo Alto, but the perplexing decision of star forward Rosco Allen to remain in the NBA Draft this off-season may have dampened some of the lofty expectations surrounding new head coach Jerod Haase’s debut season. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of leaps this Stanford team can now take from last year’s 15-15 showing. Welcoming back forward Reid Travis and guard Robert Cartwright, who both missed significant time last season due to injury, could be the influx of talent that the Cardinal need to turn some heads in the conference. Haase’s guys will face a top-heavy non-conference slate, that will reveal some of the true colors of this Stanford team very early on in the season. (The_Coach)

Key Games: 11/30 v. Saint Mary’s, 12/3 at Kansas, 12/19 at SMU

11. Arizona State Sun Devils [12 Points]

Last Season: 15-17 (5-13) | Post-Season: None

Arizona St is projected to finish 11th in the pre-season. Hurley and the Devils are coming off of a 15-17 campaign, finishing at 11th. Hurley has done well recruiting, I personally project them to finish in the top 10. Hurley should have the Devils back in contention in no time. Big out of conference matchups include UNLV and Kentucky. (David Mays)

Key Games: 11/28 v. Kentucky*, 12/6 v. Purdue*, 12/10 at San Diego State

12. Washington State Cougars [8 Points]

Last Season: 9-22 (1-17) | Post-Season: None

The Washington State Cougars Men’s Basketball team was 9-22 overall and 1-17 in conference play in the 2015-16 season. They finished 12th place in the PAC 12. Under 3rd year Head Coach Ernie Kent, the Cougars hope to exceed the PAC 12 Media Poll projections, which WSU was picked 12th. The Cougs are led by Senior Forward Josh Hawkinson. Hawkinson averaged 15.4 points per game last season. Senior Guard Ike Iroegbu returns. He averaged 12.7 points per game last season. Coach Kent is really excited for Incoming Freshman Point Guard Malachi Flynn. Kent compared him to former Oregon Duck and former NBA Point Guards Aaron Brooks and Luke Ridnour. Both played for Kent while he coached at Oregon. Kent is encouraged by the potential of his team and expects improvement in the 2016-17 season. (Brian J. Moore)

Key Games: 11/18 v. Creighton, 11/19-20 v. Montana/NC State*, 12/20 v. Kansas St.*