Pac-12 men’s basketball preview
Bud Withers’ Pac-12 team-by-team preview, in predicted order of finish.
1. Arizona (14-0)
Coach: Sean Miller (5th year), 110-43.
Top scorer: Nick Johnson (16.0).
Resume: Pac-12’s best, with wins at San Diego State, over No. 7 Duke and at Michigan.
Telling stat: UA’s FG percentage defense of .372 is No. 12 nationally and No. 6 adjusted for tempo.
Revelation: Prize freshman F Aaron Gordon averages 12.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg.
Shortfall: Gordon makes only 45.2 percent of his free throws.
Bottom line: With Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell giving ’Cats a true point guard, it’s all out there for Arizona this season — even a second NCAA title.
2. Oregon (12-0)
Coach: Dana Altman (4th year), 85-37.
Top scorer: G Joseph Young (20.2).
Resume: Ducks have wins over Georgetown, Ole Miss, Illinois and BYU.
Telling stat: G Jason Calliste, shooting .593 on threes and .926 on free throws, has scored 148 points on 62 field-goal tries.
Revelation: The top four scorers — Young, Mike Moser, Calliste and Damyean Dotson — combine to shoot .446 on threes.
Shortfall: G Dominic Artis and F Ben Carter recently returned from nine-game NCAA suspension for selling school-provided shoes.
Bottom line: Jet-fueled Ducks (Pac-12-leading 90.8 ppg) may not have the size to contest Arizona, but they’re trouble for everybody else.
3. Colorado (11-2)
Coach: Tad Boyle (4th year), 80-40.
Top scorer: G Spencer Dinwiddie (15.8).
Resume: Buffs’ portfolio is good, with a victory over No. 16 Kansas and quality losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State.
Telling stat: Against a solid schedule, CU has a 10.4 rebounding margin.
Revelation: Buffs succeeding with a young roster, with five freshmen and two sophomores among top 10.
Shortfall: Team shooting only .322 on threes.
Bottom line: Buffs don’t look to have championship weapons, but a veteran backcourt will carry them a long way.
4. UCLA (11-2)
Coach: Steve Alford (1st year), 11-2.
Top scorer: G Jordan Adams (18.5).
Resume: Nothing overwhelming, with wins over Northwestern and Alabama and losses to Missouri and Duke.
Telling stat: Bruins shooting .522, with an assist-turnover ratio of 1.72 to 1.
Revelation: Bothell product Zach LaVine is third-leading scorer (12.2), shooting 44 percent from three.
Shortfall: In the two losses, Bruins were outrebounded by a total of 25.
Bottom line: Alford has a skilled team of good shooters. If 6-9 soph Tony Parker continues developing, UCLA will be a handful.
5. California (9-4)
Coach: Mike Montgomery (6th year), 118-63.
Top scorer: G Justin Cobbs (14.2).
Resume: Losses are to Syracuse, Dayton, UCSB and Dayton, with a victory over Arkansas.
Telling stat: Bears have had the Pac-12 player of the year three of the past four seasons.
Revelation: F Richard Solomon, averaging 10.3 boards, has vastly improved his rebounding.
Shortfall: Swingman Ricky Kreklow is out indefinitely with a broken hand.
Bottom line: Montgomery hasn’t had a full roster in recent years, but he figures to have enough to steer the Bears to another NCAA tournament.
6. Arizona State (11-2)
Coach: Herb Sendek (8th year), 130-110.
Top scorer: G Jahii Carson (19.3).
Resume: Solid but unspectacular, with a win over Marquette and losses to Creighton (88-60) and Miami (Fla.)
Telling stat: Starting Gs Carson and Jermaine Marshall combine to shoot .478 on threes.
Revelation: Shaquielle McKissic, a 23-year-old, 6-5 Kentridge High and Edmonds Community College product, has averaged 14 points over the past four games.
Shortfall: Depth could be an issue; only seven Sun Devils average more than 10 minutes.
Bottom line: Behind the explosive Carson, ASU should make a run at an NCAA berth.
7. Stanford (9-3)
Coach: Johnny Dawkins (6th year), 103-77.
Top scorer: G Chasson Randle (18.7).
Resume: Got a marquee win at UConn, lost close to Michigan and had bad losses to BYU and Pitt.
Telling stat: Cardinal holding foes to .396 shooting.
Revelation: 6-11 junior F Stefan Nastic averages 8.8 ppg after being a non-factor last year.
Shortfall: G Aaron Bright of Bellevue suffered a season-ending shoulder dislocation seven games in.
Bottom line: Dawkins desperately needs an NCAA appearance, and Cardinal, led by Randle and F Dwight Powell, might get him there.
8. Utah (11-1)
Coach: Larry Krystkowiak (3rd year), 32-44.
Top scorer: F Jordan Loveridge (17.3).
Resume: Dominant win over BYU and a tight loss at Boise State the only redeeming qualities on a downy-soft schedule.
Telling stat: Utes have played 11 of 12 games at home.
Revelation: JC transfer G Delon Wright (6-5) looks like one of the Pac-12’s brightest additions.
Shortfall: Skimpy resume, and 1-17 Pac-12 road record the last two years, make Utes a tough read.
Bottom line: Krystkowiak seems to have the Utes on an upward arc. They’ll be pesky, especially in Salt Lake City.
9. USC (9-4)
Coach: Andy Enfield (1st year), 9-4.
Top scorer: G Byron Wesley (17.0).
Resume: Trojans have quality wins over Dayton and Xavier.
Telling stat: Trojans shoot only .313 on threes, but allow just .300.
Revelation: F Nikola Jovanovic (10.0 ppg) and G Julian Jacobs (7.1) have become freshman starters.
Shortfall: Trojans playing fast, but their offensive efficiency ranks 12th in the league.
Bottom line: Enfield hasn’t yet turned USC into Dunk City West, but the ride will be worth watching.
10. Washington (8-5)
Coach: Lorenzo Romar (12th year), 245-134.
Top scorer: G C.J. Wilcox (20.5).
Resume: Huskies have taken lumps against a tougher schedule and don’t have a marquee win.
Telling stat: UW allows a league-worst .496 FG shooting.
Revelation: JC transfer Mike Anderson has been an all-around contributor, averaging 7 rebounds with a 1.87-1 assist-turnover ratio.
Shortfall: F Shawn Kemp Jr., coping with a thyroid condition, averages only 16 minutes and two rebounds.
Bottom line: Could be Romar’s most challenging year since 10-17 debut in 2003.
11. Washington State (7-5)
Coach: Ken Bone (5th year), 77-70.
Top scorer: G DaVonte Lacy (18.9).
Resume: Cougars beat Purdue but have home losses to TCU and UTEP.
Telling stat: F D.J. Shelton and G Royce Woolridge combine for just 11 of 63 threes (17.4 percent).
Revelation: After a slow start, guard Que Johnson has 40 points in his past two games.
Shortfall: Despite renewed defensive emphasis, WSU allowing .431 shooting, 11th in Pac-12.
Bottom line: Still playing a low-possession game, WSU faces an uphill struggle in an improved league.
12. Oregon State (8-4)
Coach: Craig Robinson (6th year), 86-93.
Top scorer: Roberto Nelson (21.4).
Resume: Win at Maryland is negated by losses to Coppin State, DePaul, Akron and Hawaii.
Telling stat: Beavers have a slight rebounding deficit.
Revelation: G Langston Morris-Walker’s energy just won him a starting spot.
Shortfall: F Eric Moreland will return shortly after a 14-game suspension for violating team rules.
Bottom line: Long-suffering Beavers haven’t finished as high as .500 in league since 1993. That won’t change this season.