Cougars basketball picked to finish last in Pac-12 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cougars basketball picked to finish last in Pac-12

The Cougars finished the year 13-18 last season. Photo: Washington State Athletics The Cougars finished the year 13-18 last season. Photo: Washington State Athletics

By Pac-12 Conference

SAN FRANCISCO – ARIZONA, a popular pick as the nation’s preseason No. 1 team, has been chosen the favorite to win the 2017-18 Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball title in a vote of media members who cover the league.

Arizona, the national frontrunner according to Athlon, Blue Ribbon Sports and Street & Smith’s preseason publications, was a near unanimous Conference favorite, receiving 22-of-23 first-place votes and 273 points to land atop the preseason poll. The Wildcats return three starters including 2017 Pac-12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player Allonzo Trier from last year’s Pac-12 regular-season co-champion and Pac-12 Tournament title team.

It marks the 15th time Arizona has been the league’s predicted winner dating back to 1989-90, including the fifth time in the past six seasons. The Wildcats have backed up the billing on nine occasions, most recently in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

USC was picked to finish second for its highest-ever preseason Conference ranking. The Trojans, buoyed by the return of all five starters from last year’s team that won a school record 26 games, received the other first-place vote and totaled 251 points as the predicted runner-up.

UCLA, which returns a pair of double-digit scorers and adds two McDonald’s All-Americans, was slotted third, followed by 2017 NCAA Final Four participant OREGON in fourth. STANFORD, anchored by four returning starters including the Pac-12’s top returning scorer in Reid Travis, was picked fifth.

ARIZONA STATE rounded out the top six of the preseason poll, breaking into the top half for the first time since being picked fourth prior to the 2010-11 campaign.

UTAH, OREGON STATE, COLORADO, WASHINGTON, CALIFORNIA and WASHINGTON STATE completed the predicted order of finish.

Media have correctly picked the Conference winner 15 times in 25 tries, while the winner has been accurately chosen in 17 of the 28 all-time preseason votes.

The Pac-12 will carry considerable momentum into the 2017-18 campaign after sending a record seven teams to the 2016 NCAA Tournament and finishing with three teams in the top 10 in the nation in 2017, culminating with OREGON’s appearance in the Final Four in April.

2016-17 Pac-12 All-Conference performers Trier (Arizona), Travis (Stanford) and Chimezie Metu (USC) headline the list of the league’s top returners. Additionally, nine NBA Draft early-entry candidates elected to return to Pac-12 programs for the 2017-18 season, highlighted by Rawle Alkins (Arizona), Bennie Boatwright (USC), and Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh (UCLA), boosting the Wildcats, Trojans and Bruins in early national top 25 poll projections.

The Conference also is slated to add 19 freshmen rated in the ESPN Top 100, the second-most of any league in the country, highlighted by five McDonald's All-Americans, tied for the most in Conference history.

The 2017-18 season will begin on Friday, Nov. 10 with 10 games as part of Pac-12 Networks’ Full Court Friday as well as UCLA battling Georgia Tech in the 2017 Pac-12 China Game on ESPN.

Pac-12 regular-season play begins on Friday, Dec. 29 and culminates March 7-10 with the 2018 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, which broke several attendance records in its debut season at T-Mobile Arena in 2017.

2017-18 PAC-12 MEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON MEDIA POLL

Courtesy: Pac-12

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