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Arizona's Nick Johnson
The Contenders: Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, Colorado
Oregon has benefited from the addition of transfers Joseph Young and Mike Moser, which has helped the Ducks become the top scoring team in the country. But having to go overtime to beat Ole Miss and BYU, the latter at home, suggests the Ducks may have trouble when things slow down in conference play.
UCLA has the talent to repeat as regular-season conference champion with Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson in the lineup. Plus, the Bruins do not have to face Arizona on the road this season. However, the Bruins lost their only two nonconference games against quality opponents, Missouri and Duke.
Colorado has established itself as a perennial threat under coach Tad Boyle, and its victory over Kansas indicates the Buffaloes have a shot again this season. Forward Spencer Dinwiddie is finally getting recognized for his talents, and Colorado does not have to face Oregon on the road this season.
Were it not for Arizona, Colorado would be the Pac-12 favorite.
The Favorite: Arizona
The unbeaten Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the country, so they are the obvious Pac-12 favorites. But they were undefeated and ranked No. 3 at this stage last season and finished tied for second in the conference.
The difference this season is at point guard. Although freshman Aaron Gordon and guard Nick Johnson get most of the publicity, point guard T.J. McConnell, a transfer from Duquesne, provides the kind of solid floor leadership that was lacking last season. Victories over Duke on a neutral court and Michigan on the Wolverines' home court prove Arizona has what it takes to win the Pac-12 title.
The Dark Horse: Stanford
The Pac-12 is filled with dark-horse candidates in Utah, Cal and Arizona State, but Stanford is the most intriguing. Though the Cardinal lack depth and have never demonstrated the consistency needed to win a conference title, they have enough talent to beat anyone when things fall into place. Guard Chasson Randle and forward Dwight Powell make Stanford a threat, as its upset of Connecticut indicated.