On a national level, the Pac-12 conference has become increasingly competitive over the past few years. This upcoming college basketball season should see the overall Pac-12 talent level move even closer to the elite conferences such as the Big East and ACC. The Pac-12 sent five teams to the NCAA Tournament last year: Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, California and Colorado. It is conceivable that they can produce four Top-25 teams this season (last list minus Cal). Not out of the question is the possibility of churning out a whopping seven entrants for the next tournament, adding Stanford and Washington to the aforementioned teams. (And don’t overlook Arizona State, who has one of the best point guards in the nation in Jahii Carson.)
Arizona will be favored to win the Pac-12 and will be led by guard Nick Johnson. Since last season they have also added incoming prep phenom, and potential top-five pick in the next NBA draft, forward Aaron Gordon. I was able to watch him play in high school and it was a treat.
UCLA has a new coach in Steve Alford, previously with New Mexico. Despite the departure of Shabazz Muhammad, this team will be just fine.
Another coaching change took place at USC with their splashy hiring of Andy Enfield, last seen coaching up Cinderella Florida Gulf Coast in last year’s tourney. He is known mostly as an outside shot guru and should improve the Trojans’ perimeter game.
Colorado returns most of their players and will surely be competitive. Stanford and Washington have added talent through recruits/transfers and both will improve over last year.
Then there is Oregon, who brings back a very talented sophomore backcourt from last year’s successful team. The Ducks have also added numerous transfers that should provide an immediate impact.