The new Pac-12 hoops season begins in earnest on Monday, Nov. 7. Everyone hits the court on Opening Night. We’ll see Azuolas Tubelis and Drew Peterson return to the floor, KJ Simpson and Harrison Ingram look to build off of promising first years, and the debuts of (*in his best Dick Vitale voice*) diaper dandies Kel’el Ware and Amari Bailey. A ton of talent returns, both on the court and on the coach’s bench.

There’s reason for excitement for plenty of Pac-12 squads. Not all. Such is life. I’m here to give predictions for each that will absolutely prove to be 100% accurate and above reproach. If I hate your team, feel free to yell at me. If I love your team, I’m sorry for jinxing them.

Here’s how far each Pac-12 side goes in 2022-23.

(Note: projected win ranges are for regular-season schedules only.)

Arizona Wildcats — 2nd Pac-12, NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

Projected win range: 22-25

It was a magical first season for Tommy Lloyd in Tucson. A free-flowing, defend-and-counter attack perfectly maximized the roster Lloyd had to work with. Bennedict Mathurin, the eventual Pac-12 Player of the Year, was the go-to scorer who was an absolute nightmare in transition. Dalen Terry and Kerr Kriisa and Justin Kier could all trigger the break and make the right pass. Terry and Christian Koloko could wreak havoc on the defensive end, using their length to get into passing lanes, block shots, and generally muck up opposing offenses. Arizona led the country in assists and finished with a top-25 defensive rating. It was able to outrun or out-talent most other teams but when the Cats needed a bucket, they turned to Mathurin, who put in 18 a game. He, along with Koloko (12.6 points), Terry (8.0 points), and Kier (6.8 points) are all gone.

Tubelis figures to be a key piece of what Arizona does each night, and I like his chances of putting up something like 17 points and eight boards a game. But the way he no-showed in the final two NCAA Tournament games was a bit alarming. The best teams need that perimeter guy. You hear it every March — “Guard play wins in the Tournament.” Adama Bal maybe doesn’t make the leap, but he should take a step at the very least. I think Pelle Larsson (7.2 points a game last season) is the swing piece. If it’s not Bal, the 6-foot-5 Larsson is a good candidate to be the “go get us a bucket” guy from the wing. Is that asking too much? Winning 18 league games again seems unlikely; I like Arizona to stay right near the top of the league and win a couple more NCAA Tournament games, though.

Arizona State Sun Devils — 6th Pac-12, NIT Second Round

Projected win range: 17-20

The Sun Devils were one of the league’s slowest teams out of the gates and one of the hottest at the finish line. Coach Bobby Hurley will look for a better start this season. A 14-17 finish and a second straight season without an NCAA Tournament bid has turned the heat up a little bit in Tempe. That’s led to some introspection from Hurley and a retooled roster.

Jay Heath (10.6 points), Marreon Jackson (10.4), Kimani Lawrence (10.1), and Jalen Graham (9.9) have all left the program. Hurley hit the transfer portal hard for reinforcements, bringing in Desmond Cambridge Jr. (16.2 points at Nevada), Warren Washington (10.5 points at Nevada), Devan Cambridge (5.3 points at Auburn), and Frankie Collins (2.8 points at Michigan). There’s size in the frontcourt, veteran leadership throughout the roster, and a deep collection of perimeter players. Maybe the biggest “pickup” will be Marcus Bagley, a versatile, game-changing forward who was one of Hurley’s highest-rated recruits but has been limited to 15 games in two seasons because of injury. If Bagley is fully healthy, the ceiling of this Sun Devil squad is quite high. It’s a little hard to fully trust the group yet, but I’m much higher on ASU than the consensus.

California Golden Bears — 11th Pac-12, Pac-12 Tournament First Round

Projected win range: 8-12

The Bears haven’t enjoyed a winning season on the hardwood since Cuonzo Martin left. Back-to-back eight-win seasons under Wyking Jones forced his departure after two years and led to the hiring of Mark Fox. He won 14 games in Year 1, then just nine in Year 2 and only 12 last year. The record against Pac-12 competition is 15-43. Will Cal be good at basketball again anytime soon? Or is the athletic department more worried about what’s happening at UCLA than what’s happening on the homefront with the two most visible sports floundering?

Fox has an uphill battle on his hands this upcoming season. He loses his top three scorers from last year’s team — Jordan Shepherd (14.6 points), Andre Kelly (13.4), and Grant Anticevich (9.7) — after that group finished the year ranked 222nd nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. The only other guy to average more than five a game, Jalen Celestine, is set to miss an undetermined amount of the season after knee surgery back in the spring. The recruiting class this past cycle ranked 11th in the Pac-12. The big offseason addition was Devin Askew, a former Texas and Kentucky guard with a career 23.5% turnover rate and a 41.8% effective field goal rate.

Colorado Buffaloes — 8th Pac-12, Pac-12 Tournament Quarters

Projected win range: 15-18

What Colorado lost in the frontcourt this offseason was worth more than the 27 points and 14.1 rebounds a game that Jabari Walker and Evan Battey combined to give coach Tad Boyle. Walker was a super sophomore — doubling his points while keeping his shooting respectable, doubling his rebounds, and knocking down the 3-ball well enough to force teams to cover him on the perimeter. Battey felt like the heartbeat of the team. With Keeshawn Barthelemy also moving to Oregon, the Buffs are another in the long list of Pac-12 teams missing a bunch of top scorers from their previous years. The three guys who averaged double-digits are all gone. This season’s squad will probably be more guard-dependent, with KJ Simpson hoping for a Walker-esque sophomore surge and a pair of senior transfers in Ethan Wright (Princeton) and Jalen Gabbidon (Yale) joining the fold.

Boyle has earned the benefit of the doubt, guiding the Buffaloes to four consecutive 20-win seasons, but this year’s team has serious questions on the interior. Colorado is relying on the slight-of-frame Tristan da Silva and the seldom-used Lawson Lovering to shoulder the load in the frontcourt. Da Silva will have a pretty significant scoring burden on his shoulders. The 7-foot-1 Lovering played just 10 minutes a night in his 18 appearances last season, and when he was on the floor he had per-40 averages of seven fouls and four turnovers. Colorado had a top-50 defense last season, per KenPom’s adjusted efficiency metric. I’m concerned about the Buffs being run over inside on that end of the floor.

Oregon Ducks — 3rd Pac-12, NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

Projected win range: 21-24

There is no reason to question Oregon this season, which also means there are zero excuses for another disappointing campaign. The 2021-22 Ducks just never quite jelled. The group got a makeover this offseason but brought back the most important pieces — Will Richardson (14.1 points) to run the point, Quincy Guerrier (10.1 points) to give coach Dana Altman a versatile forward to slide up or down depending on how many bigs he wants to roll with, and N’Faly Dante (8.1 points) to anchor the interior. The Ducks did lose Jacob Young (12.0 points), De’Vion Harmon (10.8 points), and Eric Williams Jr. (8.4 points), but Altman hit the portal for plug-and-play guards and brought in two guys who feel like strong fits in Jermaine Couisnard (12.0 points at South Carolina) and Keeshawn Barthelemy (11.1 points at Colorado).

Oregon could have the best frontcourt in the conference, and it sort of feels like that piece of the rotation is going to set the ceiling for this team. Richardson is the best shooter on the team (39% from 3 last year), but he’s going to be running the show. Guerrier shot 33%, Barthelemy shot 35%. Those guys have to hold up or spacing gets really precarious. We’ll see how the J.C. newcomers shoot at this level. Altman can play a twin towers lineup with Dante and 5-star freshman Kel’el Ware together. He can play either with 7-footer Nate Bittle, who spent the offseason working on extending his offensive game. If spacing becomes a problem, things get interesting.

Oregon State Beavers — 12th Pac-12, Pac-12 Tournament First Round

Projected win range: 7-11

It was a historic collapse for the Beavers one year removed from a Pac-12 Tournament title, a run to the Elite Eight, and a contract extension for coach Wayne Tinkle. The team fell apart. The defense was an abject failure. Oregon State went 3-28, setting program records for most losses in a season and worst win percentage. Eleven players left. Oregon State’s big portal addition, Georgia’s Christian Wright, will miss a significant portion of the season with a knee injury, leaving the point guard position to be manned by either Dexter Akanno (4.9 points, 37% shooting last season) and true freshman Jordan Pope. It takes a special kind of bad to only win three games in a year, and the odds of it happening again in Corvallis are slim, but I also don’t think it’s going to be an enjoyable season.

Stanford Cardinal — 5th Pac-12, NCAA Tournament Round of 32

Projected win range: 18-21

When word got out that Stanford planned on bringing back coach Jerod Haase for a seventh season, it was met with groans. In six prior seasons, the Cardinal has yet to make a trip to the NCAA Tournament and has posted a winning record in conference play only once. With Freshman of the Year Harrison Ingram and sharpshooter Spencer Jones leading the way last season, it was shaping up to be a breakout kind of campaign until the momentum ground to a halt with a five-game losing streak to close the regular season.

Stanford beat Arizona State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament and then nearly toppled Arizona in the quarters as Jones went bonkers from the 3-point line. Over his final four games of 2021-22, the 6-foot-7 forward averaged 22.5 points a game and knocked down 17 of his 32 triples (53%). His return, coupled with that of Ingram, is the main source of optimism in Palo Alto this season. Continuity was the theme of the offseason, with six of the top seven overall scorers coming back. This offense wasn’t an efficient one last year, even in spite of the on-paper goods. I’m looking to Michael O’Connell to be more effective manning the point if Stanford is going to make good on its potential.

UCLA Bruins — 1st Pac-12, NCAA Tournament Final Four

Projected win range: 23-26

Mick Cronin told the world he was imploring point guard Tyger Campbell to be more selfish and hunt for his own shots this upcoming season. I was skeptical at first, but Campbell scored 32 in a closed scrimmage against San Diego State and then put up 25 points on 19 shots in the team’s exhibition win. UCLA returns the Player of the Year frontrunner in forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., a 14-points-per-game scorer a year ago who could flirt with 20 a night as the questioned main option. Campbell averaged 12 a game last year while taking nine shots per contest and shooting 41% from 3.

If those two are both flirting with 20 points every night, UCLA is going to be a national title contender. The quality throughout the rest of the rotation gives Cronin the best team he’s had in Westwood thus far. UCLA lost Johnny Juzang (15.6 points), Jules Bernard (12.8), Cody Riley (7.3), Myles Johnson (3.6), and Peyton Watson (3.3) from last year’s team, and yet it might still have the best starting five in the conference. Jaylen Clark is a defensive force. Amari Bailey steps in as a top-10 freshman who will take some time to settle in but will be playing elite ball at the end of the season. And while Bailey ramps up, 5-star freshman center Adem Bona looks like he’ll open the season as an absolute unit in the paint. I like Arizona probably more than most, but I also think UCLA can be a legitimate national title contender come March.

USC Trojans — 4th Pac-12, NCAA Tournament First Round

Projected win range: 19-22

USC is in an interesting spot entering Year 10 under coach Andy Enfield. He’s won at least 20 games in five of the last six seasons. He’s made four NCAA Tournaments. In the 20 years prior to his arrival, USC had five 20-win seasons total. But the Mobley brothers are now gone after ushering in the two most successful seasons for a USC team since the 90s, and Enfield has taken the exact opposite approach to roster-building as his SC counterpart Lincoln Riley. USC basketball will seldom take a transfer player. Enfield certainly could have gone out and found some frontcourt help or a pure point guard in the portal, and instead he focused on the freshman recruiting class. Tre White, Kijani Wright, and Vince Iwuchukwu all joined the team as top-50 recruits — White a versatile wing, Wright and Iwuchukwu the future in the frontcourt.

Part of the “no transfers” calculus this season was the Iwuchukwu factor. USC expected him to be a Day 1 force at center. After collapsing at practice over the summer, he is out indefinitely.  Boogie Ellis (12.5 points), Drew Peterson (12.4), and Reese Dixon-Waters (4.8) power an intriguing and dynamic backcourt. The offense will go as they take it. USC built its success a year ago on defense, though, and it remains to be seen how much of a step back will be taken on that side of the floor with a much younger frontcourt.

Utah Utes — 10th Pac-12, Pac-12 Tournament First Round

Projected win range: 12-15

Craig Smith’s first season was not easy, with the 11 wins marking the worst output in a year since the Utes joined the Pac-12. Larry Krystkowiak’s ouster forced a reset. The fortunate news for those in Salt Lake City is that the Runnin’ Utes got the hard part down right away: they have a star.

Preseason first-team all-conference center Branden Carlson can do a bit of everything in a ridiculous-to-guard 7-foot, 230-pound frame. His per-40 numbers last season: 21 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.7 assists, 2.8 fouls (!!!), 51% from the field, and 31% from the 3-point line. An unleashed Carlsen could be a major force to be contended with in the Pac-12. And Smith gets the added benefit of knowing what became his starting five late last year returns completely intact for the 2022-23 season. Marco Anthony (9.1 points), Rollie Worster (7.5), Lazar Stefanovic (7.5), and Gabe Madsen (6.7) fill out the unit, and there are options on the bench. Utah is building. This team will be feisty. If we look back at this four months from now and they’re a few spots higher, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Washington Huskies — 7th Pac-12, NIT Second Round

Projected win range: 15-18

It’s a pivotal season in Seattle for coach Mike Hopkins. Washington won 27 games in 2018-19, then just five during the 2020-21 campaign. Last year saw an all-or-nothing approach with the Huskies being dragged by the scruff by point guard Terrell Brown Jr. The one-and-done grad transfer from Arizona put up 21.7 points a game for UW, the seventh-best mark in the entire country. Emmitt Mathews was the only other player who averaged double-digit scoring.

Brown, Matthews (11.7 points), Jamal Bey (9.4), Daejon Davis (7.0), and Nate Roberts (5.5) all depart. Hopkins hit the portal hard. He brought Keion Brooks Jr. (10.8 points) over from Kentucky — a former top-25 recruit who just never really popped for Big Blue. He brought Noah Williams in from Washington State to play some point. He brought Franck Kepnang in from rival Oregon to give UW a proven rim protector. Jamal Bay (9.4 points) and PJ Fuller (7.4) return to round out a group that will probably be the five most-used players on the season. I wonder how they score efficiently in the halfcourt, but I think they have the potential to be a feared defense.

Washington State Cougars — 9th Pac-12, Pac-12 Tournament First Round

Projected win range: 15-18

The Cougars were close last year. Close to finally breaking through. A 1-9 record in games decided by five points or less left them on the outside looking in at the NCAA Tournament. They went to the NIT, though, and advanced all the way to the semis. This offseason featured plenty of change. Wazzu lost their top four scorers —  Michael Flowers (14.2 points), Tyrell Roberts (11.4), Noah Williams (9.5), and Efe Abogidi (8.1). Pac-12 all-freshman forward Mouhamed Gueye (7.4 points) will be counted on to assume a bigger role as the team’s leading man, as will TJ Bamba (7.7 points) on the wing.

Washington State added 7-foot freshman Adrama Diongue to partner on the front line with Gueye, giving the Cougars another true twin towers pairing. An undisclosed medical issue with Dishon Jackson means the pressure is on Diongue to be reliable and productive right away. The Cougs have some high-potential players — hello, Justin Powell — but very little depth and serious questions about consistency.