The post-NCAA event evaluation of Pac-12 basketball is in, and people throughout the nation are lastly admitting the convention was higher than most had been keen to concede in 2020-21 and is predicted to be a significant component in 2021-22.
Actually, two of 9 revered websites that posted way-too-early top-25 rankings for subsequent season positioned UCLA No. 1.
Earlier than we dive absolutely into subsequent season, let’s word the ultimate credit of this season.
5 Pac-12 groups had been ranked within the ultimate USA At the moment coaches ballot, a report for the convention in a post-NCAA event rating, and two Pac-12 groups had been ranked within the prime 10 — UCLA at No. 7 and USC at No. 9.
That’s fairly a change from the ultimate regular-season polls, when no Pac-12 groups had been ranked within the prime 20 in both the AP media ballot or the USA At the moment coaches ballot. Solely Colorado (23rd) and USC (24th) made the ultimate AP prime 25, and USC (23rd) and Oregon (25th) had been the one ones within the coaches ballot.
So what occurred? The Pac-12 went 13-5 within the NCAA event, the perfect report of any convention, and put three groups within the Elite Eight, whereas no different convention had a couple of. The Pac-12 went 2-0 in opposition to the Large Ten and 2-0 in opposition to the Large 12.
Right here’s a fast have a look at the NCAA event data by convention (with the variety of groups within the event in parentheses):
Pac-12 (5) – 13-5
WCC (2) – 5-2
ACC (2) – 4-2
Summit (1) – 2-1
Large 12 (7) – 11-6
Missouri Valley (2) – 3-2
SEC (6) – 7-6
Large East (4) – 4-4
Large Ten (9) – 8-9
ACC (7) – 4-7
Convention USA (1) – 1-1(*1*)
MAC (1) – 1-1
MEAC (1) – 1-1
Southland (1) – 1-1
SWAC (1) – 1-1
Mountain West (2) – 0-2
Now let’s get right down to the nitty-gritty if how this may translate into perceptions about subsequent season. We regarded on the way-too-early top-25 rankings for subsequent season of 9 websites, and whereas there may be appreciable uncertainty about subsequent season’s rosters (transfers, which seniors will return, which can flip professional, affect of incoming freshmen), the specialists appear to suppose extra of the Pac-12.
UCLA is No. 1 on two websites (Andy Katz at NCAA.com and CBS Sports activities), and the Bruins are No. 2 on two different websites (ESPN and The Sporting Information).
Gonzaga is No. 1 on six websites (ESPN, 247Sports, Sports activities Illustrated, The Sporting Information, Yahoo and Jeff Goodman).
Alabama is No. 1 on one website (Washington Publish).
Listed below are the highest 5 groups from every of the 9 early top-25 rankings, with the Pac-12 groups within the top-25 added. Feedback of Pac-12 groups are included.
Andy Katz, NCAA.com
The Bruins had no senior contributors on a Ultimate 4 staff. Mick Cronin has constructed a tradition of successful, protection and toughness.
The roster turnover occurs yearly, however Dana Altman at all times comes by way of with a Pac-12 title contender.
Evan Mobley will probably be gone, however sufficient returns for the Trojans to be again within the chase within the Pac-12.
CBS Sports activities
Each significant participant who helped the Bruins make the Ultimate 4 is presently projected again on campus – amongst them NCAA Match star Johnny Juzang. UCLA will add five-star prospect Peyton Watson and will have all the items essential to win a nationwide title.
Many of the items that helped Arizona end within the prime 30 at KenPom are anticipated again. So long as James Akinjo withdraws from the NBA Draft, the Wildcats ought to return to the NCAA Match (offered they’re eligible for the NCAA Match).
Andy Enfield ought to have the Trojans again within the NCAA Match – so long as Isaiah Mobley does not be part of his brother, Evan Mobley, within the NBA Draft. A top-15 recruiting class highlighted by Reese Dixon-Waters will assist offset the departures.
Dana Altman is among the many greatest at reloading his roster every offseason by way of the switch market. So it is protected to imagine he’ll discover sufficient good items to complement a core of Will Richardson and Eric Williams, each of whom averaged double-figures this season.
A bang-bang cost name or 40-footer shy of doubtless taking part in for the nationwide championship, I am banking on UCLA’s March momentum carrying over to subsequent season. That expectation hinges closely on what Johnny Juzang decides to do, nevertheless. March’s breakout star raised his inventory as a lot as any participant in school basketball over the previous three weeks and will head to the NBA. But when Juzang comes again, Mick Cronin ought to have again each notable participant from the Ultimate 4 staff. Jaime Jaquez established himself as a go-to scorer and Tyger Campbell is the right level guard for Cronin. The Bruins also needs to get a lift from the potential wholesome return of Chris Smith and the addition of five-star wing Peyton Watson. The query might be whether or not UCLA is extra just like the staff that gained 5 video games in 12 days to get to the Ultimate 4 or the staff that misplaced 4 in a row to complete 17-9 earlier than Choice Sunday.
Projected beginning lineup:
Tyger Campbell (10.2 PPG)
Johnny Juzang (15.5 PPG)
Jaime Jaquez (12.1 PPG)
Chris Smith (12.6 PPG)
Cody Riley (9.8 PPG)
4. Ohio State
A principally forgotten staff this previous season, Arizona was a probable NCAA event staff for many of the marketing campaign regardless of having nothing to play for resulting from a self-imposed ban. It isn’t clear the Wildcats will be capable of play in subsequent season’s NCAA event both (or if Sean Miller will nonetheless be the coach), however till a punishment is handed down, I am rolling with them as a possible second-weekend staff. Miller’s groups up to now have been recognized for protection, however this model was terrific offensively. James Akinjo is a wonderful playmaker on the level of assault, and the Wildcats have an assortment of versatile frontcourt gamers to offer groups issues. Benedict Mathurin, Kerr Kriisa, Dalen Terry, Azuolas Tubelis and Jordan Brown all made impacts throughout their first yr in Tucson, and Miller additionally brings in a stable recruiting class led by top-100 prospect Shane Nowell. Count on Arizona to hit the portal, too.
Projected beginning lineup:
James Akinjo (15.6 PPG)
Dalen Terry (4.6 PPG)
Bennedict Mathurin (10.8 PPG)
Azuolas Tubelis (12.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG)
Jordan Brown (9.4 PPG)
Like Arkansas and a few different packages, Oregon is one other scenario the place I simply assume it should discover gamers within the spring to fill out the roster. Dana Altman does it yearly, and he will get the staff buzzing throughout the second half of the season. And he’ll most likely do it once more in 2021-22. Eugene Omoruyi, Chris Duarte, L.J. Figueroa and Amauri Hardy are all seniors, whereas Chandler Lawson is transferring. However Will Richardson leads the returnees, which additionally contains double-figure scorer Eric Williams. N’Faly Dante solely performed six video games final season earlier than tearing an ACL, whereas Franck Kepnang had spectacular moments within the NCAA event. The Geese additionally usher in top-10 prospect Nate Bittle, who will convey versatility to the frontcourt. Given all of the manufacturing doubtlessly leaving, Oregon may use an improve in its wing scoring. Whether or not that is by way of returnee Aaron Estrada or on the switch market, it needs to be precedence No. 1 in Eugene.
Projected beginning lineup:
Will Richardson (11.3 PPG)
Aaron Estrada (3.1 PPG)
Eric Williams (10.0 PPG)
Nate Bittle (No. 9 in ESPN 100)
N’Faly Dante (8.2 PPG)
247 Sports activities
Projected Beginning Lineup: Tyger Campbell, Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez, Chris Smith, Cody Riley
247Sports Composite class rating: No. 30
Maintain an eye fixed on: Johnny Juzang, Chris Smith
Can the Bruins run it again? The potential is there for all 5 starters to return, together with Smith, who was thought-about UCLA’s greatest participant heading into the season earlier than struggling a season-ending damage. Don’t be stunned if he comes again for one more yr, doubtlessly pushing Jules Bernard to a “starter minutes off the bench” position. When added to David Singleton, some returning younger expertise and the bonus of two extra wings in five-star Peyton Watson and one other prime 50 participant in taking pictures guard Will McClendon, and the Bruins might be considerably deeper than the Bruin bunch that went to the Ultimate 4. If Campbell, Juzang and Jaquez play with the extent of confidence they did late within the season, this staff is horrifying.
247Sports Composite class rating: No. 22
The Wildcats had been seen as a yr away this previous season after touchdown the No. 7 recruiting class within the 247Sports Composite, albeit one with out a true one-and-done expertise. And after going 17-9 with a staff whose two most-used lineups late didn’t embody a single senior, the Wildcats look able to roll. James Akinjo, Kerr Kriisa, Benedict Mathurin, Jordan Brown, Azuolas Tubelis and Dalen Terry are all getting into their second seasons on the courtroom for the Wildcats.
247Sports Composite class rating: No. 37
It’s a bit of powerful to rank Oregon under two Pac-12 groups provided that the Geese have had a lot success within the league, however this Oregon staff will look a bit of bit totally different. The Geese performed fairly a little bit of small ball this previous season, however may have three 6-foot-11 gamers amongst their prime seven or eight this yr, with the return of N’Flay Dante and the addition of freshman Nathan Bittle. Will Richardson and Eric Williams Jr. might be key elements, and it’s Oregon, so transfers are a lifestyle.
Sports activities Illustrated
4. Ohio State.
Maybe no participant boosted his draft inventory within the NCAA event greater than Johnny Juzang, however the Bruins might be particular if he elects to remain for one more yr. The core of Juzang, Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. is a wonderful one that can be capable of construct on the staff’s Ultimate 4 run this offseason, and the addition of elite recruit Peyton Watson on the wing will give the Bruins the top-end expertise they lacked this season. UCLA probably gained’t shoot fairly as effectively subsequent season because it did throughout its miracle run by way of March, however Mick Cronin has actually set the tone for future success in Westwood.
This might be a different-looking Oregon staff than the one we noticed in 2020–21. The addition of five-star floor-spacing large Nathan Bittle and the return of 6’ 11” heart N’Faly Dante offers this group way more dimension than it had this previous season. In the meantime, veteran guard Will Richardson needs to be one of many Pac-12’s greatest scorers. Count on Dana Altman and Co. to be very lively within the switch portal so as to add expertise as they’ve up to now—the Geese’ prime 4 scorers this season had been transfers.
The Sporting Information
2020-21 end: 22-10, Ultimate 4
Overview: Coach Mick Cronin made a degree a number of instances throughout the event that the Bruins had been advancing with out a senior on their roster. Does that imply everybody, or most everybody, will return for a shot at higher glory in 2022? Even when they do, there nonetheless will must be an improve in frontcourt depth and perimeter taking pictures. One needed to suppose this might be an much more engaging vacation spot after what viewers noticed relative to how the Bruins competed within the 2021 NCAA Match — and the way they reacted to their elimination.
4. West Virginia
2020-21 end: 21-7, Candy 16
3. Ohio State
Leaving: SF Chris Smith, PF Jalen Hill
Would possibly go away: SG Johnny Juzang
Coming again: SG Jaime Jaquez, PG Tyger Campbell, SG Jules Bernard, PF Cody Riley, SG David Singleton, SF Jake Kyman, PF Mac Etienne, SG Jaylen Clark
Including: SF (No. 14), SG (No. 38)
Juzang may get the itch to go away school early after his efficiency within the NCAA males’s event, however he can be higher off returning and getting stronger, working on his deal with a bit of extra subsequent season and constructing on what the staff did this yr. Mick Cronin and workers landed the best recruit since taking the job at UCLA in 6-foot-9 wing Watson. He’ll most certainly solely be in Westwood for one yr so this might be the yr UCLA runs the Pac-12 from begin to end.
Leaving: SG Addison Patterson (switch), SF Chandler Lawson (switch), PG Will Johnson (switch), SF Chris Duarte, SF LJ Figueroa, PF Eugene Omoruyi
Coming again: PG Will Richardson, PF Eric Williams Jr., C N’Faly Dante, SG Aaron Estrada, SG Jalen Terry (Fr.), PF Franck Kepnang
Including: C (No. 18)
Oregon went 11-1 when Richardson returned to the staff this yr after a thumb damage saved him sidelined for 2 months. He’s the ground basic this staff wants and can pair properly within the pick-and-roll with five-star Bittle coming in subsequent yr.
Leaving: PG Jemarl Baker Jr. (switch), SG Terrell Brown Jr. (switch); PF Ira Lee (switch)
Coming again: PG James Akinjo, PF Azuolas Tubelis, SG Bennedict Mathurin, PF Jordan Brown, SG Kerr Kriisa, C Christian Koloko, SF Dalen Terry
Including: SG (No. 86), SG (No. 81), PG (No. 89)
Arizona has a veteran level guard returning in Akinjo, and search for sophomore Mathurin to have a breakout yr subsequent season. The 6-foot-7 taking pictures guard averaged 18.8 factors and shot 41% from 3-point vary in simply 25 minutes per sport as a freshman. He’ll probably be the No. 1 possibility within the offense subsequent season.
7. UCLA (22-10)
The Bruins had three elements to this previous season — the 17-5 begin, a four-game skid and the 5-1 NCAA event run. Mick Cronin’s squad was unremarkable on protection throughout Pac-12 play however wonderful up till its loss to Gonzaga within the semifinals. That drawback solved, UCLA ought to be capable of climb to the highest of the Pac-12 if its core group — Johnny Juzang, Jules Bernard, Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Cody Riley — stays intact.
22. Oregon (21-7)
This yr particularly, there are specific groups which can be going to get a positive way-too-early placement based mostly on the coach’s observe report alone. It looks like Oregon has as a lot common roster churn as anybody and has performed within the second weekend of the postseason in 5 of the final eight event, so Dana Altman might be well-equipped to take care of the fluidity of this offseason.
25. Southern California (25-8)
Evan Mobley is presumably off to develop into a lottery choose, however maybe a superb chunk of the remainder of the roster that led the Trojans to the Elite Eight for the primary time in 20 years might be again? Andy Enfield has gained with transfers earlier than, in order that’s an possibility if want be. Regardless, USC just isn’t a one-hit marvel; it’s coming off its fifth 20-win season in six years.
Jeff Goodman (Stadium)
2. Ohio State
Seniors: F Chris Smith (12.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
50-50: G *Johnny Juzang (Soph., 16.0 ppg)
Unknown: PF Jalen Hill (RS Jr., 6.1 ppg)
Again: SG *Jaime Jaquez Jr. (Soph., 12.3 ppg), PG *Tyger Campbell (RS Soph., 10.4 ppg), G *Jules Bernard (Jr., 10.3 ppg), PF *Cody Riley (RS Jr., 10.0 ppg), G David Singleton (Jr.), SF Jake Kyman (Soph.), PF Mac Etienne (Fr.), G Jaylen Clark (Fr.), PF Kenneth Nwuba (RS Soph.)
Add: SF Peyton Watson (No. 10), SG Will McClendon (No. 45)
Nobody noticed this coming within the NCAA Match, and so long as Juzang returns to Westwood, there’s no motive to consider the Bruins gained’t choose up the place they left off. However that’s an enormous query. Juzang was arguably the event’s brightest star, Jaquez and Bernard had been each terrific, and Mick Cronin will add a stud freshman in Watson. The opposite x-factor is whether or not Smith returns.
Transferring: G Addison Patterson (Soph., Nevada), F Chandler Lawson (Soph., 4.4 ppg), G Will Johnson (RS Jr., 0.7 ppg)
Seniors: F *Eugene Omoruyi (RS Sr., 17.1 ppg), G *Chris Duarte (17.1 ppg), F *LJ Figueroa (12.3 ppg), G Amauri Hardy (3.9 ppg)
Again: G *Will Richardson (Jr., 11.3 ppg), F *Eric Williams Jr. (RS Jr., 10.0 ppg), C N’Faly Dante (Soph., 8.2 ppg), G Aaron Estrada (Soph.), G Jalen Terry (Fr.), C Franck Kepnang (Fr.)
Add: C Nathan Bittle (No. 16), SF Johnathan Lawson (No. 91)
Truthfully, this one is about Dana Altman and this system’s skill to reload by way of transfers greater than the rest. There might be main turnover, however that’s nearly at all times the case lately with the Geese. They nonetheless have a minimum of two starters again in Richardson and Williams, and a few proficient bigs with Dante and Kepnang, plus two heralded frosh with Bittle and Lawson.
Transferring: G Jemarl Baker Jr. (RS Jr., 12.0 ppg), G Terrell Brown Jr. (Grad, 7.3 ppg); F Ira Lee (Sr., 3.0 ppg)
Again: G *James Akinjo (Jr., 15.6 ppg), PF *Azuolas Tubelis (Fr., 12.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg), SF *Bennedict Mathurin (Fr., 10.8 ppg), PF Jordan Brown (RS Soph., 9.4 ppg), G *Kerr Kriisa (Fr., 5.5 ppg), C *Christian Koloko (Soph., 5.3 ppg), F Dalen Terry (Fr.)
Add: SG-SF Shane Nowell (No. 80), G Ok.J. Simpson (No. 99), SG Shane Dezonie
The Wildcats weren’t eligible for the NCAA tourney this previous season, however probably would have gotten in in the event that they hadn’t self-imposed a ban. If they convey again their core of Akinjo, Tubelis, and Mathurin whereas including a trio of stable freshmen, there’s no motive to suppose they’ll’t compete for the Pac-12 title.
Cowl photograph of UCLA by Indy Star, USA TODAY Sports activities
Observe Jake Curtis of Cal Sports activities Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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