Preseason College Basketball Rankings 2010-2011: Top Five Pac-10 Schools
With college expansion in the Pac-10 possibly beginning in 2011 (Utah and Colorado), this fall could be the last year of traditional Pac-10 basketball.
Rewind twelves months ago, the 2009-2010 season was not a banner year for the Pac-10.
Only Washington and California made the NCAA tournament, a far cry from the number of schools the conference is use to sending.
With revamped rosters and highly touted recruiting classes, the Pac-10 should bounce back to form when the season starts again in November.
Just out of the top five is Washington State. The Klay Thompson-led squad that finished in last place a year ago, is now poised to make a leap in the standings.
The Golden Bears will be out to capture their second straight conference championship.
However, replacing all-everything guard Jerome Randle (along with three other departing seniors) will be tough work for coach Mike Montgomery.
Fortunately for California, its coach is bringing in the No. 24 ranked recruiting class, according to Rivals.com.
The returning Golden Bear with the most experience is G Jorge Gutierrez, who averaged just under six points a game last year.
4. Arizona State
With a recruiting class of seven, the Sun Devils will rely heavily on their freshman to carry a large portion of the workload.
Fortunately for coach Herb Sendek, Arizona State was able to lure F Keala King, the 43rd ranked player in ESPN's top 100 class of 2010, away from his home state of California.
Aligned with King will be Tempe staples Rihards Kuksiks, Trent Lockett (pictured), and Ty Abbott.
Building off the surprise Sun Devil team that finished second in the regular season a year ago, this year's edition should continue to contend for a Pac-10 title.
It was a tough year in Westwood last season.
After the Bruins finished the season 14-18, their legendary former coach, John Wooden, passed away shortly after in the offseason.
Now, UCLA is ready to get back to old form.
With the No. 15 ranked recruiting class, including the No. 2 center in Josh Smith and the No. 5 shooting guard in Tyler Lamb, the Bruins should find themselves back in familiar territory near the top of the conference standings.
The streak is over in Tucson.
25 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament is something to marvel at, but not to get caught up in.
Now, with the pressure logically off his young Wildcats squad, second-year coach Sean Miller can begin to distinguish himself from the old Lute Olson era.
Helping out the cause will be sophomore, and last seasons' freshman of the year, Derek Williams.
Not only a Pac-10 player of the year candidate, Williams will be watched closely as a possible future first-round pick in the NBA draft.
If Kentucky coach John Calipari wouldn't have stolen prized recruit Terrence Jones from Seattle, this team would be a top 10, or maybe even top five, team in the country.
Alas, like always, Calipari got his man, and the Huskies were left licking their wounds.
Fortunately for fans in the Pacific Northwest, Washington will still be favored to win the Pac-10.
After their run to the conference tournament title, the Huskies continued their hot streak all the way to the Sweet 16, before finally losing to West Virginia.
With the majority of its roster back, including All-American hopeful guard Isaiah Thomas, Washington has the talent to run away from the field with a Pac-10 championship in hand.