The Pac-12′s perception of the University of Utah is that it is going to be a trying season under first-year head coach Craig Smith.
The Utes, 12-13 last season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, were picked 10th in the Pac-12 preseason poll, released Wednesday morning ahead of the league’s annual media day in San Francisco.
Utah, which has eight new players on the roster, received 105 points in the vote, 46 behind No,. 9 Stanford and 20 ahead of No. 11 Washington.
UCLA, which returns every one of consequence from a remarkable Final Four run last season as an 11-seed, is the prohibitive favorite to win the Pac-12 after receiving 32 of 34 first-place votes. The other two first-place votes went to two-time, reigning league regular-season champion Oregon.
The Pac-12 is coming off a strong NCAA Tournament showing. The league only sent five teams to the COVID-impacted, Indianapolis-hosted Big Dance, but of those five, four advanced to the Sweet 16 and three got to the Elite Eight, both of which were tops among all conferences.
Utah announced Monday afternoon that it will host crosstown Division II Westminster College on Nov. 4 at the Huntsman Center in an exhibition game. The Utes open the regular season Nov. 9 vs. Abilene Christian back at Huntsman.
PAC-12 MEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
Rk. Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. UCLA (32) 404
2. Oregon (2) 373
3. USC 320
T4. Arizona 245
T4. Oregon State 245
6. Colorado 235
7. Arizona State 224
8. Washington State 221
9. Stanford 151
10. Utah 105
11. Washington 85
12. California 44