UCLA picked as Pac-12 favorite
Bruins edge out California and Arizona in preseason poll
LOS ANGELES -- UCLA was picked on Friday to win the newly realigned Pac-12's basketball title, something the Bruins haven't done since 2008 when they made the last of three consecutive trips to the Final Four.
The Bruins received 421 points and 14 first-place votes in polling by media who cover the reconfigured conference. They won three consecutive league titles from 2006-08, repeating their run of three in a row from 1995-97.
UCLA narrowly edged California and Arizona in first-place votes. The Golden Bears were picked second with 405 points and 13 first-place votes, while defending league champion Arizona had 404 points and 11 first-place votes for third. All three teams were ranked in the AP Top 25 preseason poll on Friday. The Wildcats are No. 16, the Bruins No. 17 and Cal is No. 24.
Washington, the defending tournament champion, was picked fourth with 355 points, followed by Oregon, Stanford and Southern California. Oregon State was picked eighth and Arizona State ninth. Newcomer Colorado and Washington State tied for 10th.
New addition Utah was picked last with 74 points -- 45 behind the Buffaloes and the Cougars.
"A distant last," new Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "I looked and we're the only team with two digits."
Noting that the media have correctly picked the conference winner 12 times in 19 years, Krystkowiak said, "I want to know how many times in 19 tries have you picked the bottom team correctly? Hopefully, that's not as high a number."
Count Utah center David Foster happy to be out of the Mountain West.
"I'm not going to miss traveling to Laramie, Wyo., anymore," he said, ticking off the California schools, Arizona and Oregon as the locations he's most looking forward to playing at. The 7-foot-3 senior's family lives in Bakersfield, while he's intrigued by Oregon's court, which has trees painted on it.
"I've never played on a court with a bunch of trees," Foster said.