College Basketball: 2013-14 Pac-12 Preview

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Nick Johnson, Arizona take aim at Pac-12 title

College Basketball: 2013-14 Pac-12 Preview

The two new Los Angeles coaches may be the most interesting offseason storyline for the Pac-12, but don't be surprised if schools outside the Golden State make the most news in the Pac-12.

Thanks a core of juniors and sophomores and the league’s best signing class, Arizona may be the Pac-12’s best Final Four threat since the last time time the Wildcats reached the Elite Eight three years ago.

Elsewhere, a major storyline is the rise of Oregon and Colorado as Pac-12 title contenders. Dana Altman’s hire in Eugene was met with shrugs, but he’s led the Ducks to steady improvement, ending last season with a hard-fought loss to national champion Louisville in the Sweet 16. Tad Boyle, meanwhile, has taken the Buffaloes to an unprecedented three consecutive postseasons.

That’s not to say the Los Angeles schools can be overlooked. Steve Alford takes over at one of basketball’s most storied programs at UCLA. He has a roster that can contend for the league crown.

USC is a bigger challenge for new coach Andy Enfield, who knows a thing or two about doing the impossible by taking Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16.

Pac-12 Predicted Order of Finish

ALL-PAC-12 FIRST TEAM
G Jahii Carson, Arizona State
G Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
G Jordan Adams, UCLA
G C.J. Wilcox, Washington
F Dwight Powell, Stanford

ALL-PAC-12 SECOND TEAM
G Justin Cobbs, California
G/F Kyle Anderson, UCLA
F Aaron Gordon, Arizona
F Josh Huestis, Stanford
F Mike Moser, Oregon

ALL-PAC-12 THIRD TEAM
G Jabari Bird, California
G Damyeon Dotson, Oregon
G Nick Johnson, Arizona
F Josh Scott, Colorado
F Travis Wear, UCLA
1. ARIZONA (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Elite Eight
Sean Miller lost some key pieces, but the Wildcats always have plenty of firepower. Freshman Aaron Gordon is a stud.

2. UCLA (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 32
Steve Alford has championship talent to work with, a rarity for an incoming coach.

3. COLORADO (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
The Buffaloes will try to go 3-for-3 in NCAA Tournament appearances since joining the Pac-12.

4. OREGON (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
Dana Altman has once again pieced together a roster that will compete in the Pac-12.

5. ARIZONA STATE (team preview)
Postseason projection:
NCAA Round of 64
Jahii Carson and the Sun Devils have the talent to give Herb Sendek a much-needed NCAA bid.

6. CAL
Postseason projection:
NIT
The roster isn’t overflowing with talent, but Mike Montgomery rarely misses the NCAA Tournament.

7. STANFORD
Postseason projection:
NIT
Johnny Dawkins has a veteran lineup that needs to produce. The Cardinal haven’t played in the NCAAs since the Trent Johnson era.

8. OREGON STATE
Postseason projection:
NIT
The Beavers have size, scorers and experience, so why aren’t they more feared?

9. WASHINGTON
Postseason projection:
NIT
Long-range bomber C.J.Wilcox can’t do it alone, but he might have to on a roster that lacks elite talent.

10. USC
New coach Andy Enfield and his model wife were meant for Los Angeles. The Trojans’ talent is far more questionable.

11. WASHINGTON STATE
Ken Bone will be coaching his last season in Pullman unless the Cougars exceed expectations.

12. UTAH
The other Coach K, now in Year 3, will be given lots of latitude to rebuild an undermanned program.

Pac-12 Awards

Player of the Year: Jahii Carson, Arizona State
Carson ranked second in the league at 18.5 points per game last season, adding 5.9 assists per game to the mix. He’s a lightning quick guard who could carry the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.

Defensive Player of the Year: Josh Huestis, Stanford
The 6-7 senior may be undersized, but he’s a relentlessly aggressive defender. Huestes averaged 10.5 points and 9.0 rebounds last season.

Most Underrated: Askia Booker, Colorado
Andre Roberson was a draft pick, and Spencer Dinwiddie may follow him this season. But let’s give some credit to Booker, who can heat up as a scorer in a hurry. He averaged 12.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

Newcomer of the Year: Aaron Gordon, Arizona (full list of key newcomers in the Pac-12)
The jewel of Arizona’s incoming class and the top recruit Sean Miller has landed with the Wildcats, Gordon could be the piece that helps Arizona reach the Final Four. He’s a versatile forward who could play wing or closer to the basket.

Top coach: Sean Miller, Arizona (top 50 coaches for 2013-14)

Coach on the hot seat: Ken Bone, Washington State (full list of hot seat coaches)

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