Pac-12 Gets No Respect in Preseason Basketball Rankings
When I noticed that Yahoo.com had released a preseason college basketball top-25 on Monday, I wondered whether it gave the Pac-12 any more respect than previous recent preseason rankings?
The answer is a simple "No."
Yahoo's top-ranked team from the conference was Arizona State at No. 18, and that was dependent on Remy Martin returning to school after submitting his name for inclusion in the 2020 NBA draft. (Men’s basketball athletes have until 10 days after the NBA draft combine or Aug. 3, whichever comes first, to withdraw from the postponed 2020 NBA draft and retain their eligibility.)
The highest any Pac-12 school was ranked in any of the three preseason rankings was Arizona State at No. 15 in the ESPN.com top-25. There again the ranking was dependent on Martin returning to ASU. The highest-ranked Pac-12 school in the CBSSports.com top-25 was Oregon at No. 19.
The other three Pac-12 schools that received mention in at least one of these three rankings were Stanford, Oregon and UCLA, but Arizona State and Stanford were the only two ranked in all three. And Stanford's "lofty" ranking would fall if Terrell Terry opts to remain in the NBA draft.
Here are the Pac-12 teams ranked in the three top-25 lists:
No. 15 Arizona State
No. 16 Oregon
No. 19 Stanford
No. 19 Oregon
No. 21 Stanford
No. 22 UCLA
No. 25 Arizona State
No. 18 Arizona State
No. 23 UCLA
No. 25 Stanford
So what should we take from this.
1. The experts expect the Pac-12 to continue to be a bit player on the national scene. Only one Pac-12 team (No. 13 Oregon) finished in the top-25 last season, and none was ranked in the top-25 at the end of the 2018-19 season. The last time a Pac-12 team finished in the top 10 was 2016-17.
2. The conference race should be wide open, with no team strong enough to dominate the Pac-12. You will remember that in 2019, last-place Cal beat confererene champ Washington late in the year, and this past season, last-place Washington won late-season road games against two teams expected to get NCAA tournament bids (Arizona, Arizona State).
3. Cal can make headway in the conference. Despite its limited talent, Cal finished tied for eighth with a respectable 7-11 conference mark last season, and the Bears won two of their three games against a Stanford team that will probably be nationally ranked in the preseason AP poll. Cal will still have a talent deficit and won't compete for a conference crown in 2020-21, but it should be capable of beating any team in the Pac-12, especially if the Bears' three-point shooting improves with the addition of transfers Ryan Betley and Makale Foreman.
The bottom line is that playing in the Pac-12 does little for a team's national prestige, but it gives teams with limited talent a chance to finish high in the standings.
The broader question is this: What happened to West Coast college hoops?
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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