The University of Utah men’s basketball team is going to have to overcome perception this winter.
The Utes, 11-20 overall and 4-16 in the Pac-12 in head coach Craig Smith’s first year at the helm, were slotted 10th in the Pac-12 preseason poll, voted on by 33 media members and released Wednesday morning ahead of the conference’s annual media day in San Francisco.
Smith, fifth-year senior guard Marco Anthony, and fourth-year junior center Branden Carlson will represent Utah at Pac-12 media day. Utah’s media day press conference, which will feature Smith and both players, will air on Pac-12 Insider at noon. They will then appear on Pac-12 Network’s media day show at 3 p.m.
Carlson, an All-Pac-12 second-team selection last season despite missing eight games due to a combination of health-and-safety protocols and an appendectomy, was the only Ute named to the preseason All-Pac-12 first team on Monday.
Buoyed by the return of seniors Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell, UCLA is the prohibitive favorite to win the Pac-12, picking up 26 out of the 33 first-place votes and 386 points.
Arizona, which loses a ton of high-end talent off last season’s regular-season and Pac-12 Tournament winner was second, receiving three first-place votes. No. 3 Oregon grabbed three first-place votes, and No. 5 Stanford received one.
Utah will host Division II Westminster on Nov. 2 for an exhibition at the Huntsman Center (6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks), with the regular-season opener vs. first-year head coach Rod Strickland and LIU to follow on Nov. 7 (9 p.m., Pac-12 Mountain).
Pac-12 men’s basketball preseason media poll
(First-Place Votes in parentheses)
1. UCLA (26), 386 points.
2. Arizona (3), 352
3. Oregon (3). 336
4. USC, 300
5. Stanford (1), 239
6. Colorado, 207
7. Arizona State, 193
8. Washington State, 185
9. Washington. 158
10. Utah, 102
11. California, 69
12. Oregon State, 47
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