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BTD’s 2018-2019 Preseason Pac-12 Basketball Poll

There’s some serious conversation to be had among who’s the top squad in the Pac-12 this season.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Oregon vs North Carolina Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Voters: Albert Lee, Joe Londergan, John Severs, Justin Sattelmaier, Kyle Wilson, Marcus Russell, Ross Parker, The_Coach & Travis Johannes

1. Oregon Ducks (103 Points - 5 1st Place Votes)

Oregon has never strayed too far from the top of the league conversation in recent seasons, especially since the program’s back-to-back Elite Eight/Final Four campaigns from 2015 to 2017. The Ducks have a very likable roster in Eugene, anchored by veteran guard Payton Pritchard and a highly-touted freshmen class, which includes some potential one-and-dones like Bol Bol. Head coach Dana Altman’s job will be to help this group grow into a legitimate Top 10 team.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Oregon vs North Carolina
Payton Pritchard is a prototypical Dana Altman-type player. Smart, physical, talented and focused.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2. UCLA Bruins (100 Points - 4 1st Place Votes)

Head coach Steve Alford has never struggled to attract talent to the UCLA program, despite the team not always living up to colossal expectations. In 2018-2019, Alford will once again have a stacked roster on campus in Westwood, in what’s expected to be a tenure-defining campaign for the sixth year head coach. The former Hoosiers star landed a jaw-dropping recruiting haul, led by five-star center Moses Brown, to mix with returning stars in Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes.

NCAA Basketball: Cal. State - Bakersfield at UCLA
UCLA’s Jaylen Hands could emerge as arguably the league (and country’s) best point guard.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

3. Arizona State Sun Devils (84 Points)

Despite losing three superbly gifted guards this off-season in Tra Holder, Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice, head coach Bobby Hurley brings arguably his “best fit” squad into the 2018-2019 season, with a roster that looks like it was hand-selected by the fourth year head coach. Up-front, Arizona State will be stronger than they’ve ever been between Romello White, Zylan Cheatham and Taeshon Cherry, complimented by (as always in Tempe), a slew of play-making guards.

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Arizona State
Can the excitable Remy Martin lead the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament?
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

4. Washington Huskies (74 Points)

The zone will live on for the Huskies, as the gradual implementation of head coach Mike Hopkins’ style on the Washington program may finally come to it’s full potential. Hopkins has what every coach in the country wants, with a quartet of blossoming and balanced talents in Jaylen Nowell, Noah Dickerson, David Crisp and Matisse Thybulle ready to lead the charge. Look for rising sophomores Naz Carter and Hameir Wright to also have break-through sophomore campaigns.

NCAA Basketball: Washington at California
Noah Dickerson will be the heart and soul of the Huskies’ veteran line-up this season.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

T-5. USC Trojans (71 Points)

Nothing looks all that bad right now at USC. Star forward Bennie Boatwright is still around. Two solid juniors in Jonah Matthews and Nick Rakocevic are ready for strong campaigns. And as always, head coach Andy Enfield landed a jaw-dropping freshman haul, headlined by five-star prospect Kevin Porter Jr.. So why are the Trojans tied for the fifth spot? It’s hard to forget that USC did finish 23-11 last season, with arguably the best depth chart USC has had in decades.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Southern California
USC’s Bennie Boatwright believes the Trojans will contend in the Pac-12. Does anyone else believe in this team?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

T-5. Arizona Wildcats (71 Points)

Arizona had the calmest off-season of any Pac-12 team (that’s called sarcasm), after well, a whole lot of things didn’t go so well for the Wildcats. If the focus stays on the hardwood, head coach Sean Miller can respond with a borderline Top 25 squad, which will features the likes of a few transfer in Chase Jeter (Duke) and Justin Coleman (Samford), as well as some guards like Brandon Randolph and Dylan Smith, who are ready to make their own names in Tucson.

NCAA Basketball: Champions Classic-Duke vs Kansas
A rough start to his college career at Duke is setting up a fresh start for forward Chase Jeter at Arizona.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

7. Colorado Buffaloes (48 Points)

On paper, Colorado’s roster is a collection of unknown names to those casual college basketball fans, who probably didn’t dive much deeper into the 2017-2018 Buffs, than the emergence of freshman McKinley Wright IV, as a soon-to-be Pac-12 star. The truth about Colorado is that they aren’t flashy or exciting, but when playing them for a full forty minutes, they have a tendency to get the job done. Consider Colorado the ultimate dark-horse in the league this season.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Arizona
After being the Pac-12’s breakout freshman star last season, McKinley Wright IV will need to avoid the sophomore slump for Colorado.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

8. Oregon State Beavers (46 Points)

The Beavers bounced back from their horrific 5-27 season in 2016-2017 with a solid 16-16 campaign last year, showing the slow growth of a program from Pac-12 doormats to potential giant-killers. The loss of forward Drew Eubanks to the NBA this off-season puts a void in Oregon State’s talent pool, but guard Stephen Thompson Jr. and forward Tres Tinkle are still on campus and both are potential all-league pieces. Cohesion and maturity will make or break this group.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Media Day
It could be the last go-round for Stephen Thompson Jr. and Tres Tinkle in Corvallis.
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

9. Utah Utes (39 Points)

Usually steady and hard to unnerve, Utah will have to re-invent themselves in 2018-2019, as they’ll need to replace three of their best players in guard Justin Bibbins, big man David Collette and forward Tyler Rawson, as well as just about the whole rest of the roster. Utah will add eleven new players to their depth chart, who will all fight for playing time around returners Sedrick Barefield, Donnie Tillman and Jayce Johnson, the three known commodities on the roster.

NCAA Basketball: NIT Final-Penn State vs Utah
Can guard Sedrick Barefield go from role player to star for the Utes?
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

10. Stanford Cardinal (33 Points)

After two unexciting campaigns to begin his tenure at Stanford, head coach Jerod Haase was probably expecting his Cardinal program to be in the heart of the conference conversation this year. However, once all-league forward Reid Travis decided to transfer to Kentucky, Stanford was left scrambling to pick up the pieces. Is there still some likable pieces in Palo Alto? Yes, of course. But overall, this much-hyped recruiting class will need to play ahead of their years from the get-go.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Media Day
With a rough season, head coach Jerod Haase could be on the hot seat at Stanford.
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

11. California Golden Bears (23 Points)

The good news for California fans is that Boise State transfer guard Paris Austin will become eligible this season for the Golden Bears and will likely grow into a steady third-option to Darius McNeill in the back-court and Justin Sueing up-front. The bad news is, the cupboard is empty after that. 6’ 5” swingman Juhwan Harris-Dyson had a solid freshman season but still has a good deal of growing to do, especially if California is going to pull itself out of the conference cellar.

NCAA Basketball: Washington at California
Darius McNeill will have to carry the load for California this season.
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

12. Washington State Cougars (10 Points)

The consensus surrounding Washington State seemed to be steady across the board, as everyone on our panel saw the Cougars shaping up to be the worst squad in the league. Head coach Ernie Kent has continued to see an exodus of talent from his program, which was only interrupted by an outlier in senior forward Robert Franks, who returned to campus from testing NBA Draft waters for his final campaign. Simply put, it’ll be another tough year for the Cougars.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona State at Washington State
Somehow, Robert Franks may be an all-league talent stuck on a last place team in the Pac-12.
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports