Arizona picked in top 5, ASU No. 7 in Pac-12 preseason hoops poll
The Pac-12 men’s basketball media poll is out, and Arizona has the higher expectations than Arizona State ahead of this season.
The Wildcats are ranked tied for fourth after they were fifth in the poll last year, while ASU is seventh after being voted second in 2020.
Arizona received 245 points, which put them at a tie with Oregon State, while ASU received 224 points.
Both programs will look different compared to last year.
The two have roster turnover, especially ASU, and the Wildcats will be helmed by first-year head coach Tommy Lloyd.
Arizona State had a tumultuous 2020-21 season with injuries, COVID-19 cases and more losses than anticipated after the school landed top-30 recruits Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley.
The Sun Devils finished 11-14 overall, their lowest winning percentage since 2011-12, with a 7-10 conference record.
ASU was the eighth seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, where it beat Washington State in Round 1 before falling to top-seeded Oregon.
This year, the Sun Devil roster is dramatically different. Point guard Remy Martin transferred to Kansas after four seasons, and Christopher is in the NBA. ASU reupped the team with the third-ranked recruiting class in the Pac-12 and transfers.
Bagley, center Jalen Graham and forward Kimani Lawrence are the Sun Devils’ prominent returners.
Arizona had a more uplifting season at 17-9 overall despite having a young team on a self-imposed postseason ban.
It brought in Lloyd, a 20-year assistant coach for Gonzaga, to replace Sean Miller and lead the program into a new era.
Arizona’s top scorer from last year, James Akinjo, is gone, but the Wildcats return four four-star recruits from the 2020 class, including All-Pac-12 honorable mention forward Azuolas Tubelis.
Both teams start their regular seasons on Nov. 9, with ASU taking on Portland and Arizona facing Northern Arizona.