- BetOnline has Oregon (+275) as the slight favorite to win the Pac-12 regular-season title
- Arizona (+350) will rely on two five-star recruits to rebound from a lost season after last year’s FBI investigation
- Washington (+400) will also need their five-star prospects to perform if they’re going to repeat as conference champions
After sending only six teams to the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, worst among the power-seven conferences (ACC, American, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12), the Pac-12 actually boasts four of the country’s top-11 recruiting classes this year.
With college basketball experts expecting the newly talent-rich conference to land up to six schools in March Madness, let’s review the odds at BetOnline and predict a winner.
ODDS TO WIN PAC-12 REGULAR-SEASON
Looking dead in the water after losing five of their top six scorers from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team, the Ducks quickly restocked their roster with a number of top prospects and graduate transfers.
Athletic forward CJ Walker and 6-foot-11 center N’Faly Dante are five-star prospects with NBA pedigree, but coach Dana Altman didn’t stop there. He also recruited four-star guard Addison Patterson to join Payton Pritchard in the backcourt.
— Oregon Men’s Basketball (@OregonMBB) October 8, 2019
The senior, Pritchard, is Oregon’s leading returning scorer after averaging 12.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds last season.
With seven tournament appearances in the last eight years, the Ducks deserve top billing in the Pac-12, but given their roster has undergone a complete overhaul, it might take some time for all the pieces to come together.
After winning four of the previous five regular-season conference titles, the Wildcats were hamstrung by an FBI investigation in 2018.
Slick-talking Sean Miller didn’t let the cloud that still hovers over his program impact his recruiting efforts, however, landing two five-star prospects in Italian-born Nico Mannion and Australian-native Josh Green.
Nico Mannion and Josh Green made the Pac-12 preseason All-Conference team.
Chase Jeter was an honorable mention: https://t.co/9ui5t1GlkQ
— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) October 8, 2019
Last year, Mannion averaged 30.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists to become a McDonald’s All-American. As the top NBA-draft prospect in the conference, he’ll be relied upon immediately after returning point guard Brandon Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury in the offseason.
Arizona will also need Green to realize his potential as a scorer/slasher from the wing if they’re going to compete. The Wildcats only have one returning player who averaged over 7.5 points per game last season (Chase Jeter), so there’s not a lot of experience here either.
Like Oregon and Arizona, the defending Pac-12 regular-season champions will also be relying heavily on freshmen after losing five of their top six scorers from last year’s squad.
The Huskies are the only school in the country to enroll two top-10 prospects from the Class of 2019: Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, a couple of promising 6-foot-9 forwards who are fully expected to be one-and-done and enter the 2020 NBA Draft.
This inbounds slam by Isaiah Stewart in the @McDAAG ?
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 27, 2019
Washington also added sophomore Quade Green, a former five-star point guard who transferred from Kentucky, to join junior guard Nahziah Carter in the backcourt. He’s the team’s leading returning scorer after averaging 8.1 points in 2018.
With all the Pac-12 favorites boasting tantalizing young talent and almost no returnees, this is one of the harder conferences to handicap.
I’ll take the Huskies to repeat at +400, but I could be barking up the wrong tree.