After sending just two teams to the dance last year, the Pac-12 is hoping for a much better season across the conference in 2012/13. An influx of exciting freshman recruits has the Arizona Wildcats and the UCLA Bruins pegged as the early favorites out West.
The Arizona Wildcats lost two of their top three scorers last season, but with arguably the nation’s top recruiting class coming to Tuscon that shouldn’t be a problem. Seven-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski is expected to be a beast in the paint from day one, and he is joined by Top-10 recruit Grant Jarrett, Top-20 recruit Brandon Ashley, and Gabe York. Solomon Hill (12.9 PPG, 7.7 rebounds per game) returns to provide the freshman with some leadership and experience. Entering the season at No. 12 in the AP Poll and No. 11 in the Coaches' Poll, Arizona is a +150 favorite to win the Pac-12 at 5Dimes.
UCLA isn’t far behind Arizona in the polls (No. 13 in the AP Poll and Coaches' Poll) or the betting odds to win the Pac-12 Title at +200 at 5Dimes. Small forward Shabazz Muhammad was one of the crown jewels of this recruiting class and is a projected Top-5 pick in next year’s NBA Draft. He may miss some time early in the season with eligibility issues but is expected to be back in time for Pac-12 play. Along with Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker, and Jordan Adams, this is another loaded recruiting class. The Wear twins Travis (11.5 PPG) and David (10.2 PPG) and Joshua Smith (9.9 PPG) return as well to make this one of the deepest teams in the country.
Youth is the rave in UCLA and Arizona, but Johnny Dawkins’ squad in Stanford (+400 to win the Pac-12 at 5Dimes) returns five of its top six starters from last year’s NIT champions. Aaron Bright (11.7 PPG) took his game to the next level in the NIT with 16.8 PPG, and Chasson Randle (13.8 PPG) is excellent at both ends of the court.
Colorado (+900), Southern Cal (+900), and California (+1000) make up the Pac-12’s middle tier. Cal and Colorado were the Pac-12’s only teams to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament last year, and both have two double-digit scorers returning. USC had an abysmal 6-26 season last year, but the return of its trio of star players that were lost to injury should lead to an immediate turnaround.
Washington (+1350), Arizona State (+1350), Oregon (+1750), Washington State (+2200), Oregon State (+2500), and Utah (+4000) round out the Pac-12 entering the 2012-13 college basketball season.
Odds to Win Pac-12 at 5Dimes
Southern Cal +900
Arizona State +1350
Washington State +2200
Oregon State +2500