Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pac-10 2008-09 College Basketball Preview

Predicted Order of Finish

After last’s season’s epic battle between perhaps the strongest field of teams in the conference’s history (oh, and Oregon State also), the Pac-10 looks to be down a bit from last year. However, the conference still has potential national championship contenders, a bevy of tournament teams, and a couple of teams who would seem to be down, but who you don’t want to get caught sleeping against. Oh. And Oregon State also.

1. UCLA – champion until someone beats them, and the way they keep reloading talent, beating the champ continues to be tough.

2. USC – the trip down south is going to be a tough one for the rest of the Pac-10 this year. A superstar freshman, some incoming transfers and newly eligble players and returning veterans makes this a deep Trojan squad.

3. Washington – despite this team having shown no reason to be picked this high, there is plenty of talent on this Husky squad, and if they can get contributions from just a couple of their guards, they have the talent to be an upper-division finisher and maybe even come within a stones throw of the conference championship.

4. Arizona State – Herb Sendek has this program going in the right direction, has an all-league performer or two and plenty of players to surround them

5. Washington State – despite losing three of the most successful players in this program’s history, Tony Bennett has enough veteran leadership returning and an impressive collection of newcomers to keep the Cougs in the upper division of the Pac-10

6. Arizona – Brandon Jennings will be this team’s savior. Or not. But at least Lute Olson is back. Not so fast. There is (barely) enough talent here to make a run at an NCAA tournament bid, but the story of the season for the ‘Cats is what could have been. And missing out on a couple of Jrue Holliday/Brandon Jennings matchups is no fun for basketball fans to think about either.

7. Oregon – Ernie Kent loses a bunch of underachievers and replaces them with a strong recruiting class, but this team is probably a year away from being a threat again.

8. Cal – Mike Montgomery in Berkeley. Good heavens. That alone ought to be enough to give the Bears an extra win or two (perhaps one of those even in Maples), but he doesn’t really have the horses to contend this year.

9. Stanford – Trent Johnson gets out just in time, right after the Lopez twins. And while this is still a pretty strong 9th place team, the lack of a front court will do them in.

10. Oregon State – Obligatory reference to Barack Obama’s brother-in-law complete, I expect this team to win a game this year. Two wins? Don’t push your luck.

Preseason All-Conference

First Team
PG Darren Collison Sr UCLA
SG James Harden So Arizona State
SG Jrue Holliday Fr UCLA
SF Chase Budinger Jr Arizona
PF Jon Brockman Sr Washington

Second Team
PG Taylor Rochestie Sr Washington State
SG Demar DeRozan Fr USC
G Patrick Christopher Jr Cal
PF Taj Gibson Jr USC
PF Jeff Pendergraph Sr Arizona State

Third Team
PG Daniel Hackett Jr USC
SG Josh Shipp Sr UCLA
SF Lawrence Hill Sr Stanford
PF Jordan Hill Jr Arizona
C Aron Baynes Sr Washington State

All Freshman Team
G Jrue Holliday UCLA
SG Demar DeRozan USC
SG Klay Thompson Washington State
C J’Mison Morgan UCLA
C Michael Dunigan Oregon

Preseason Tournament Tie-Ins

Arizona – NIT Season Tip-Off
Potential Opponents: UAB/Santa Clara, Oklahoma/Davidson, Purdue/Boston College

Arizona State – 76 Classic
Potential Opponents: Charlotte, Providence/Baylor, St. Mary’s/Wake Forest

Oregon – Maui Invitational
Potential Opponents: Alabama, North Carolina, Texas/Notre Dame

UCLA – Coaches vs. Cancer
Potential Opponents: Michigan, Duke/Southern Illinois

USC – Puerto Rico Tip-Off
Potential Opponents: Seton Hall, Memphis, Xavier/Virginia Tech

Washington – CBE Classic
Potential Opponents: Kansas, Syracuse/Florida

Washington State – Legend’s Classic
Potential Opponents: Mississippi State, Pitt/Texas Tech

Top 10 Non- Conference Games

11/18 Arizona State @ San Diego State
Not a particularly strong non-conference schedule for ASU, so this is a must win

12/4 UCLA @ Texas
The Longhorns perhaps not as strong as last year, but this is still a tough roadie for the Bruins.

12/4 USC @ Oklahoma
Major battle between two teams who figure to be major players in March.

12/6 Baylor @ Washington State
This was a fun game last year, but we’ll get a chance to see what kind of team the Cougs are early this season.

12/10 Gonzaga @ Washington State
Another big test for the Cougs against a team with big expectations this season

12/14 Gonzaga @ Arizona
Never let it be said that Lute Olson has ever dodged tough opponents.

12/17 St. Mary’s @ Oregon
Oregon gets a chance at revenge, except St. Mary’s might be better than last year and Oregon is not as good.

12/23 Kansas @ Arizona

Nothing different here, just the Wildcats playing another outrageously difficult schedule.

12/27 Washington State @ LSU
LSU isn’t all that good, but this may well be a big game on the Wazzu resume come March.

2/7 Notre Dame @ UCLA
The only Pac-10 midseason non-conference game of any importance.

Predicted NCAA Tournament Invites (6)
UCLA, USC, Washington, Arizona State, Washington State, Arizona


aztribguy said...

Pretty surprised to see the Sun Devils fourth. ASU has one of the best inside-outside combos in the country and a great coach.

Get to know James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. They'll be competing for a Pac-10 title this season. :)

You can keep up with the Sun Devils here:

MK-Ultra said...

Oh believe me, I know ASU well. It may be a reach to have them place behind Washington, but even despite the struggles of the SoCal teams in the early going, I still think those two are the favorites in the conference.