The Pac-12 really hit a low point a couple of seasons ago when only two teams made the NCAA tournament and the regular-season conference champion (Washington) was not one of them. However the league has bounced back, especially last season, when it sent five teams to the Big Dance. This season should be no different, as I expect five teams -- and possibly six -- to participate in March Madness.
The conference is loaded with talent and some of the best coaches in the country. Any one of the teams in the top half of the league could win the conference title (and even teams on the bottom half will be dangerous on any given night).
Here are my early projections on how the Pac-12 could play out this season.
1. Arizona Wildcats
Expectations are always high in desert, and this season is no different. Arizona lost two players to the NBA draft -- one unexpectedly in Grant Jerrett -- but Sean Miller has brought in another top flight recruiting class, headlined by Aaron Gordon. The 6-foot-8 power forward is a special talent. He had a great summer entering his freshman season, winning MVP of the U-19 world championships for Team USA as it won the gold medal (all while coming off the bench). He has a nonstop motor and is a high-level athlete who also possesses a great feel for the game. Another top newcomer is the very versatile Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (imagine a Stacey Augmon-type forward), who is expected to make a big impact at either forward spot for the Cats.