Pac-12 Predictions: Standings

Pac-12 play is ready to start this week and has its conference picks. Read on to see how we think the standings will shake out.

There is going to be plenty of variety in the Pac-12 this season. Here are the predictions for the standings from

Jason Scheer

1. Arizona (15-3)*

2. California (14-4)*

3. Washington (13-5)

4. UCLA (12-6)

5. Stanford (12-6)

6. Oregon (11-7)

7. Oregon State (11-7)

8. USC (8-10)

9. Washington State (6-12)

10. Colorado (3-15)

11. Arizona State (2-16)

12. Utah (1-17)

I know it is an upset, but I think Arizona's schedule is favorable and Sean Miller's Arizona teams have a tendency to get better. If Josiah Turner can get things going and Angelo Chol continued to progress, allowing Arizona to have a better inside game, the Wildcats are going to be a better team. The key here is that there are not a lot of teams in the conference that are going to pose major problems inside and Arizona should be able to compete with every team in the conference.

California is easily the main competition here and a team that is likely favored to win the conference. The Golden Bears have a legit scorer in Allen Crabbe, point guard in Justin Cobbs, and veteran in Jorge Gutierrez. Basically, Cal has the recipe for success and the parts to win the conference. However, a closer look reveals a team that has lost to every above average team it has faced. The Golden Bears have their own problems and it will be interesting to see how they handle them throughout the season.

Washington has a ton of talent, but is going to have some problems getting it to gel and be an actual team. Tony Wroten has been effective early and Terrence Ross is going to contend for the best player in the conference. The key here is that the Huskies have little inside game and teams are going to be able to match them in numerous aspects. I put the Bruins right there with the Huskies because UCLA looks like a better team and I am still not convinced the conference isn't just completely weak in general. What teams have legitimately looked better than UCLA? Not many and when it comes down to it, the Bruins have some talent.

Stanford is another team that has been surprising in the early season due to solid guard play and strong balance. The talent is not off the chart, but Stanford looks like an improved team. Oregon State is probably the biggest contender to finish higher than I have it predicted because of Jared Cunningham and company. The Beavers have beaten Texas and Devon Collier looks posed for a breakout season. However, it is still Oregon State, as evidenced by a 14-point loss to Idaho.

At the bottom of the conference, Utah is going to be historically bad. I just don't see any way that the Utes do not finish last in the conference with Arizona State not too far behind.

Blake Keathley

1. Cal (15-3)*

2. Arizona (14-4)*

3. Oregon State (13-5)*

4. Stanford (12-6)

5. Oregon (12-6)

6. Washington (11-7)

7. UCLA (10-8)

8. Washington St. (7-11)

9. USC (5-13)

10. Colorado (4-14)

11. Arizona State (4-14)

12. Utah (1-17)

From a starting five standpoint, it's hard to argue that anyone has a better one through five than Cal, who I really think will have its way with the Pac-12 in 2011-12. The addition of Justin Cobbs at point guard has allowed Jorge Gutierrez to move off the ball, and he's really developed into a pretty effective scorer. Harper Kamp and Richard Solomon in the post are as solid of a combination down low as there is in the conference, and Allen Crabbe is arguably the conference's best player on the wing.

Arizona will need to continue to improve, but the way its conference schedule sets up, it has a real chance to make a run at defending its conference title. The Wildcats only have to face California, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State once apiece in conference play, and they only play two of those games on the road. Sean Miller's squad has a good chance to make a run at a second straight undefeated home record in conference play, but visits from the Ducks and Beavers, as well as a late January showdown with Washington will certainly make that feat difficult to repeat. Playing away from McKale Center will be a challenge for Arizona, but it definitely has a shot to capture its second straight conference crown.

Oregon State has maybe the best all-around player in the Pac-12 in Jared Cunningham, and if Craig Robinson can continue to get solid production from Devon Collier and Joe Burton, the Beavers may be a dark horse candidate to surprise everyone and take home the Pac-12 title. With Ahmad Starks and Roberto Nelson both scoring double-digits on a consistent basis, OSU has really developed a methodical and balanced offense that has a several options around Cunningham. We'll find out exactly what the 10-2 Beavers are all about in their first conference game on Thursday on the road against Washington.

Stanford has been great in non-conference play, but how will that translate to its Pac-12 schedule? We'll find out right away, as the Cardinal open conference play with a home game against UCLA. If Johnny Dawkins can get sophomore Dwight Powell back on track, the Pac-12 may come down to a two team race between the Bay Area schools.

I truly believe if Jabari Brown was still around and had picked up the system at Oregon, the Ducks would have a legitimate chance at the Pac-12 crown. Without him, transfers Devoe Joseph, Tony Woods, and Olu Ashaolu have provided a nice lift for Dana Altman's program and will allow for his team to be in the top half of the conference standings.

Washington has a collection of guards that is on par with any team in the country, but it has virtually no production in the paint. If their shots are falling, the Huskies are going to be competitive in every game. They still play in one of the toughest environments for opponents in college basketball, and that should help them remain atop the conference. However, since Lorenzo Romar's team will inevitably have its off nights, it will lose some games it shouldn't and will likely be frustratingly inconsistent throughout the season.

UCLA will likely have its peaks and valleys, and with the dismissal of Reeves Nelson really looks like a team that is very vulnerable right now. Washington State has a great scorer in Faisal Aden, but he'll need to prove his worth in Pac-12 play this year. Last season, he averaged 16.1 points per game against non-conference opponents, while that number dropped to 10.9 points per game in conference play. He's averaging 15 per contest right now, and he'll need to maintain that number for the Cougars to be competitive.

USC has a depleted front court which should prevent it from being much of a factor this season, but it will reload next year and have a very talented team. Colorado should fare better than Utah, which has really struggled in non-conference play this year, in its first year in the Pac-12, while Arizona State's season should only continue to go downhill.

Rahsaan Gethers

1. California * (14-4)

2. Arizona * (13-5)

3. Oregon State * (13-5)

4. Stanford (12-6)

5. Washington (10-8)

6. Oregon (10-8)

7. UCLA (9-9)

8. Colorado (6-12)

9. Washington State (6-12)

10. USC (5-13)

11. Arizona State (3-15)

12. Utah (2-16)

This has to be one of the most difficult years predicting where teams will fall in the conference, which is fitting now that it has expanded to 12 teams. With Colorado and Utah coming in, it does not add much to the basketball side of the conference and early in the non-conference schedule, none of the Pac-12 teams have been impressive at all.

As a whole, the conference has not had a single win against a ranked opponent but have numerous bad losses. Still, it seems that California has the best shot to win the conference.

Jorge Gutierrez and Allen Crabbe lead a talented team that gets after it defensively and can turn teams over into scoring opportunities for themselves. Arizona, Oregon State and Stanford all have a shot to take over the Golden Bears for the league crown, but still have some identity issues as a team. Arizona may be the deepest team with at least four players coming off of the bench that can contribute, but is still finding that player that can put fear in opponents late in the game.

Washington is in an interesting place because it has the talent to make some serious noise, but has really disappointed in the non-conference season. UCLA has been a national story but seem better without the departed Reeves Nelson.

It will be an uphill battle for the teams near the bottom of conference, but I can guarantee that you will not see any quit out of teams like the Trojans of USC.

Jason Nimrichter

1. California (15-3)*

2. Arizona (14-4)*

3. Stanford (12-6)

4. Washington (11-7)

5. Oregon State (10-8)

6. UCLA (10-8)

7. Oregon (10-8)

8. Washington State (9-9)

9. USC (6-12)

10. Colorado (5-13)

11. Arizona State (4-14)

12. Utah (2-16)

It should be a battle at the top of the conference. I was originally going to put Washington in the mix with those top three, but a blowout loss to South Dakota State had me re-thinking my position on the Huskies.

Cal is going to be a very good Pac-12 squad this year. With several returning players – including Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe, Harper Kamp, etc. – the Golden Bears appear to have enough to win the conference. Mike Montgomery is one of the better in-game coaches in the Pac-12 and with this talented and experienced group, Cal is going to be very tough to beat.

Arizona has had its fair share of turmoil since the end of the 2010-11 season, but it still looks to be one of the better squads in the conference. The Wildcats have played the toughest out-of-conference schedule in the Pac-12 and have hung with some of the better teams on their slate. If some of the youth can come through, UA will be very tough to beat.

Stanford has been one of the more surprising team in out of conference play. The Cardinal doesn't have the strongest of schedules, but have shown signs of being a very good Pac-12 team. Stanford hung with Syracuse at Madison Squad Garden and has beaten the likes of North Carolina State and Oklahoma State. Not overly impressive necessarily, but enough to look like a contender in a down conference.

Washington looked like one of the favorites in pre-season, but has been pretty disappointing in non-conference play. The Huskies have five losses but two of those were close games to very tough teams in Marquette and Duke. The other three losses – Saint Louis, Nevada and South Dakota State – should be cause for concern.

UW has talent with players like C.J. Wilcox, Terrence Ross, Tony Wroten and Abdul Gaddy, but its shortcomings thus far are too much to overlook.

Oregon State has the ability to surprise some people this year and has one of the conferences' best players in Jared Cunningham. The Beavers are 9-2 in the non-conference schedule, but the loss to Idaho is alarming. Still, with a player like Cunningham and a solid supporting cast, OSU should give teams fits and could sneak into the contention discussion.

UCLA would have been a contender before the loss of Reeves Nelson even though the Bruins have struggled against very mediocre teams. There is talent but, without Nelson, it's hard to see them in the race for the conference crown.

Oregon has some nice pieces in Garrett Sim, E.J. Singler and Devoe Joseph, but there may not be quite enough depth or experience to contend just yet.

Washington State lost a lot from last season but has some nice contributors in Faisal Aden and Brock Motum. Wazzu has played inconsistent heading into conference play and should be a middle-of-the-pack team this season.

USC and Colorado look to be a couple of years away from contending in the Pac-12. The Trojans have Maurice Jones and Aaron Fuller, but not much else and it has shown thus far.

The Buffaloes will experience their fair share of struggles in their inaugural season in the Pac-12. They have some experience in seniors Carlon Brown, Austin Dufault and Nate Tomlinson but the talent from top to bottom just isn't up to par with the better squads in the conference.

Arizona State doesn't have much to work with. Highly-touted freshman Jahii Carson gave Sun Devils' fans a reason to watch the team this year, but with him ruled ineligible, ASU doesn't have much entertainment value. They weren't going to contend with Carson this year as the roster is pretty void of talent, but now Arizona State is going to have a hard time putting fans in the seats.

Utah has had a very rough start. The Utes have been blown out in the majority of their games and will have a tough time winning games even in what's considered a weak Pac-12.

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