Two Pac-12 teams, Arizona (No. 6) and Oregon (No. 19), are ranked higher than UCLA (No. 22) in the preseason poll, but that isn’t exactly a predestined fate for how the Pac-12 regular season will shake out.
Arizona is slated to take the conference title with a very talented recruiting class, including top recruit Aaron Gordon (brother of UCLA castoff Drew Gordon), that will join its core group of returners like guard Kyle Johnson and center Kaleb Tarczewski.
However, UCLA will exceed Oregon in the Pac-12 standings this season.
For one, the Bruins have an easier schedule that includes only one game against Arizona and a relatively easy second half of the season.
Oregon, conversely, plays Arizona twice and will face UCLA on the road in its second matchup against the Bruins.
Secondly, if Coach Alford is able to effectively help his freshmen acclimate to college play, UCLA will have an all-around more talented team than Oregon and might even give Arizona a run for its money for the Pac-12 title.