With a little bit of dead time in the college basketball world right now, I thought it was as good a time as any to give you my top five west coast teams heading into next year.
1) Cal Golden Bears
The Bears struggled somewhat in conference play last year, but with the three teams that finished ahead of them in the standings -- Washington, USC, Arizona State -- all having to overcome the loss of top players, Cal should be the Pac 10 favorite going into next season. With guards Patrick Christopher and Jerome Randle coming back, the Bears have the best backcourt on the west coast, and one of the top ones in the nation.
2) Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Zags have to overcome the loss of some key personnel with Josh Heytvelt, Jeremy Pargo, Micah Downs, and Austin Daye (probably) headed to the next level. However, the Zags return arguably their best player from last year, Matt Bouldin. Along with Steven Gray, Demetri Goodson, the return of injured Robert Sacre, and an exciting recruiting class, the Zags should once again be in the discussion for the best team out west.
3) Washington Huskies
UW is one of the tougher teams in the nation to peg. While they bring in freshmen Abdul Gaddy, arguably the nation's second best incoming point guard behind John Wall, the Huskies have to learn to live without Jon Brockman. Brockman was the heart and soul of the team, and it will be near impossible for Lorenzo Romar's squad to replace all that he did. Still, with Gaddy and Isaiah Thomas, the Huskies have a backcourt that can compete with Cal's. Although, we may never know how good the Huskies are until they get the courage to start scheduling in-state rival Gonzaga again.
4) San Diego State Aztecs
The Aztecs bring in Kawhi Leonard, a prospect who had his choice of schools across the country. Along with Malcolm Thomas, who is still expected to withdraw from the draft and go to SD State. Add to that a number of transfers who should be ready to play from the outset, and the Aztecs shouldn't have to worry about being on the bubble next year.
5) Nevada Wolfpack
New coach David Carter is walking into a pretty good situation. With young stars Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson on the roster, the Wolfpack enter the season as the likely favorite to win the 09-10 WAC conference title. If Babbitt and Johnson keep progressing, Nevada may be able to look past the WAC title and onto loftier goals next year.