SAN FRANCISCO –
UCLA’s run to the Final Four was surprising; the Bruins were the overwhelming favorite to win the men’s Pac-12 basketball title, which they didn’t.
The media picked UCLA on Wednesday to win the conference in their preseason poll in an outlier, with the Bruins taking all but two of the top 34 finishers. Defending Pac-12 Champion Oregon, who received the other two votes, was voted second.
USC, which finished third after appearing in the Elite Eight, which was the deepest NCAA tournament in 20 years. The Los Angeles Times does not vote in media polls according to its longstanding policy.
Oregon State, another NCAA tournament surprise that rose to the Elite Eight after its run to the Pac-12 tournament title, was voted fourth alongside Arizona, which is set to start its first season under coach Brandon Lloyd.
Colorado finished fifth, followed by Arizona State, Washington State, Stanford, Utah, Washington, and California.
UCLA was a natural pick at the top of the media poll as it returned all five starters and every player who appeared in their rousing NCAA tournament run. The Bruins have added graduate transfer Myles Johnson, who has the center-back presence they lacked last season, as well as Long Beach Poly High’s highly acclaimed guard Peyton Watson.
UCLA was also selected to win the Pac-12 last season before finishing fourth after losing three straight to end the regular season.
The Bruins placed three conference-best players on the entire preseason conference team: point guard Tyger Campbell, swingman Jaime Jaquez Jr. and guard Johnny Juzang. USC’s Isaiah Mobley, who will have to carry a much larger portion of the offense while Brother Evan went to the NBA, was also selected for the first team. Trojans newcomer Boogie Ellis, a transfer from Memphis, was in the second team.