Ready for some three-on-three about the accessible Pac-12 basketball season? We’ve accumulated three basketball expects and asked them three questions. They’ve got answers.
1. How abounding teams (and which ones) will the Pac-12 accelerate to the 2019 NCAA tournament?
Jeff Borzello: I anticipate a lot will appear bottomward to what happens with the Arizona schools. Oregon is the acceptable admired branch into the season, with UCLA and Washington appropriate abaft them. USC is a acceptable bet to get to the NCAA clash if its newcomers accomplish as expected. Afresh there’s Sean Miller’s accumulation in Tucson and Bobby Hurley’s aggregation in Tempe. Arizona absent its absolute starting bristles from aftermost season, and its top abiding scorer averaged 4.3 points. Miller will accept to achievement a accustomed recruiting chic from two years ago takes a big footfall advanced as sopres and a few transfers accomplish an impact. Meanwhile, Hurley loses his top three scorers from aftermost division — but brings in a bulk of appulse freshmen and transfers that should advice ample holes. It’s a abysmal and able rotation. Colorado will be on the bubble, as well. But I’ll go with Arizona State binding out Arizona and the Pac-12 accepting bristles bids.
John Gasaway: Tough one! (Who comes up with these?) No appointment has assorted its clash citizenry in contempo seasons as abundant as the Pac-12, which has accustomed aggregate from aloof two (2012) to seven bids (2016) aback the alliance affected its accepted form. Let’s breach that aberration and alarm it four bids for 2019: Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State and USC. The Ducks will accomplish it with ease, and a adolescent Arizona aggregation will aloof miss. In between, the Bruins, Sun Devils and Trojans will get it done with Kris Wilkes, Remy Martin and Bennie Boatwright, respectively.
Myron Medcalf: Consistently the catechism with this inconsistent league. I anticipate they’ll accelerate four teams to the NCAA tournament. I anticipate Oregon, Washington, USC and UCLA will acquire berths. I anticipate Arizona and Arizona State aloof accept too abundant assembly to alter from aftermost season. But they’ll both be in the mix on Selection Sunday.
2. Who’s the apprentice or admission amateur who will accomplish the bigger appulse this season?
Borzello: There are affluence of candidates, and best eyes will attending against Eugene — alike admitting I anticipate they ability be activity against the amiss newcomer. Bol Bol will get best of the absorption in Oregon’s class, but I anticipate the Ducks’ apprentice who will accomplish the best babble is Louis King. A best anticipation in his own right, there is a case to be fabricated that King is as acceptable offensively as any admission apprentice in the country — and he possesses the accomplishment set to accomplish an actual impact. He’s got acceptable admeasurement at 6-foot-8, and can alike comedy some small-ball 4 in assertive lineups to actualize antagonism problems. King can achievement it from the perimeter, drive to the rim and finish, or account in the mid-range. It wouldn’t abruptness me to see King advance Oregon in scoring as a freshman, and afresh arch to the NBA to get drafted in the aboriginal round.
Gasaway: I’ll bandy a action actuality and go with a non-freshman: Chase Jeter at Arizona. The Duke alteration will accept the befalling to get account in Tucson appropriate away, and it wasn’t so continued ago aback the 6-foot-10 inferior was the No. 11-ranked recruit in the ESPN 100. Alike in his (very) bound account in Durham, Jeter showed he’s a force to be reckoned with on the abhorrent glass. Now he has his chance.
Medcalf: I anticipate it has to be Bol. He’s so unique. He’s a aqueous big man amidst by athletes. And that’s the affectionate of aggregation that Dana Altman has led to Pac-12 championships in the past. I aloof anticipate he’s a different force who changes the way teams will try to avert Oregon. I anticipate he’ll accomplish the greatest impact.
3. Is this assuredly the division a even does not fly over Westwood with a “FIRE STEVE ALFORD” banner?
Borzello: Considering the alone time admirers weren’t calling for Alford’s battlefront in the accomplished three years was aback Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf & Co. were active the appearance and the Bruins won 31 games, I accept my doubts. With that said, UCLA should be a top-25 aggregation this season. Kris Wilkes is an all-conference player, Jaylen Hands is a high-ceiling point bouncer and Prince Ali is back. Afresh there’s a top-five recruiting chic featuring best Moses Brown, as able-bodied as the return/arrival of Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, who were abeyant alongside LiAngelo Ball aftermost November. This aggregation will get bigger as the division goes forth and allure improves, but the Bruins should be a aggregation that can win a d or two in the NCAA tournament. Whether that’s abundant to abstain banners calling for Alford’s firing, I’ll go with no.
Gasaway: Easy one. That acknowledgment is no, for affidavit ably marshaled by my admired aide Mr. Borzello. Apparently, the alone way Alford can anticipate such a banderole from aerial over his arch is to put an crazily and absolutely historically abundant breach on the attic that rips through the Pac-12 to the tune of 1.20 credibility per possession, the way the Bruins did in 2016-17. That won’t appear every day, additional in 2019 Coach Alford will already afresh fail, as do we all, the acute and moderately ambitious “Are you John Wooden?” test.
Medcalf: Oh, the banners are advancing if Alford underperforms. He has his third afterwards top-five recruiting chic and he still hasn’t won a appointment title. We’re consistently on Alford Watch, abnormally this division with his buyout advancing bottomward to $3.6 actor compared with the $6.2 actor it would accept amount UCLA to blaze him afterwards aftermost season. But Alford has the ability and the aptitude to end the noise.
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