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The most anticipated Pac-12 basketball season in years begins next week. The not-nearly-as-anticipated Hotline power ratings begin now.
They will be published weekly into March. Decisions on team placement are final. There is no appeals process, although bribes will be considered (pizza and caffeine preferred).
All season openers listed below are scheduled for Nov. 9 and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
(All times Pacific)
Next up: vs. Cal State-Bakersfield (8 p.m.)
Comment: Very little has changed since March — the core rotation returns intact — and yet everything has changed. It won't be an entirely smooth ride through the conference season. If the rough patches don't linger, the Bruins should win the regular season by two or three games.
Next up: vs. Texas Southern (4 p.m.)
Comment: New season, same story: A few key returnees, a handful of talented transfers, and a system that assimilates newcomers as well as any in the land. Expect an uneven start and strong finish from the Ducks.
Next up: vs. Cal State-Northridge (6 p.m.)
Comment: We plan to focus on who's coming back (Ethan Anderson, Isaiah Mobley, etc.) until the on-court results shift the spotlight onto who didn't come back. That could happen soon. Like next week.
Next up: vs. Montana State (7 p.m.)
Comment: The returnees are better than advertised, the recruiting class is impressive, the culture is solid and the coaching is strong. CU's ceiling is third. Its floor is seventh.
5. Washington State
Next up: vs. Alcorn State (12 p.m.)
Comment: Not sure expectations have been this high since Tony Bennett sat at the head of the bench. And that's a good thing for the program, unless it impacts focus and chemistry.
Next up: vs. Northern Arizona (7:30 p.m.)
Comment: The Wildcats have the personnel to finish on the top tier. But with a first-time head coach (Tommy Lloyd) in a quality conference, we'll take a hard pass on blind faith and wait for the evidence.
7. Oregon State
Next up: vs. Portland State (7:30 p.m.)
Comment: Were those three scintillating weeks in March '21 a harbinger of next-level success? Or was the program's trajectory over the previous 30 years more indicative of what to expect this season? Feels like more latter than former.
8. Arizona State
Next up: vs. Portland (4 p.m.)
Comment: Failed chemistry doomed the Sun Devils last season. This year, it's about traditional basketball math: Shooting percentages, defensive efficiency, turnover margin, etc.
Next up: vs. Abilene Christian (5 p.m.)
Comment: Craig Smith was the right coach for the job but needs several years to remake the roster. If the Utes finish anywhere on the middle tier, it will have been a successful initial season.
Next up: vs. Tarleton State (7 p.m.)
Comment: After five years of stultifying mediocrity, has Jerod Haase finally reached a make-or-break season? Better question: Do enough people care for Stanford to consider a change?
Next up: vs. Northern Illinois (7 p.m.)
Comment: Speaking of make-or-break seasons for the head coach.
Next up: vs. UC San Diego (2 p.m.)
Jon Wilner's Pac-12 Hotline is brought to KSL.com through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.
Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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