SAN FRANCISCO -- Middle of the Pac?

That may be where the Buffs roam in the Pac-12 preseason media poll released on Thursday.

But there is an unprecedented championship buzz surrounding Colorado basketball one week before the 2012-13 season begins.

CU officials are close to announcing a sellout for next Friday's opener at the Coors Events Center, even though the opponent is Wofford College and the tip time is 5 p.m.

"I think one of the great story lines for us this year is CU basketball," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said at Thursday's media day event here at the conference's network studios. "I remember last year they weren't ranked very high by the media and they surprised."

Arizona, which will mix the country's No. 1 recruiting class with some talented veteran players, is picked to win the Pac-12. The Wildcats edged UCLA 403-402 in the voting.

Cal, Stanford and Washington are also projected to finish ahead of CU in that order.

"I'm not sure why that is," Buffs junior forward Andre Roberson said. "I feel like we haven't gained enough respect yet."

The Buffs were picked to finish tied with Washington State for 10th last season. They ended up as the No. 6 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament and cut down the nets at the Staples Center to earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

UCLA, picked to win the conference, finished with the same record as CU during the regular season and won the head-to-head tiebreaker.


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The Bruins have a deep and talented roster that includes Tyler Lamb, Josh Smith and David and Travis Wear. Kyle Anderson has been ruled eligible after an NCAA investigation and the program is hoping to hear similar news regarding Shabazz Muhammad. Both freshmen are top-10 prospects.

"Well, that's nice, but it really doesn't mean a whole lot," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said of the preseason love for his team, which is ranked 13th in the Associated Press poll. "Bottom line is how you finish. I think Arizona obviously has a really good team with a good blend of returners, along with a great recruiting class.

"But when I look at the breadth and depth of this conference, I think it's outstanding."

Oregon and Oregon State are predicted to finish seventh and eighth, respectively, with USC, Washington State, Arizona State and Utah filling in the bottom third of the poll. The media has projected the correct winner only 12 times in the previous 20 polls.

"I think there's going to be five to six NCAA (Tournament) teams, three to four NIT teams," USC head coach Kevin O'Neill said of the conference's postseason possibilities. "There's a ton of new talent, there's great coaches in this league, so it's going to be a great year for Pac-12 basketball."

Last season Washington, the Pac-12's regular-season champion, played in the NIT. Cal was the only team from the conference to receive an at-large bid from the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

The Buffs were the only team from the Pac-12 to advance in the Big Dance.

And Boyle's recent success has made CU basketball one of the hottest tickets in the conference.

"Obviously, they were a shining star for our conference last year and have really impressed the whole country," Scott said. "I know there is a lot of excitement about this year. That's the kind of enthusiasm and excitement from the fan base that you want."

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanThorburn

Pac 12 preseason media poll

1. Arizona (15) 403

2. UCLA (16) 402

3. Cal (3) 325

4. Stanford 296

5. Washington (2) 278

6. Colorado 262

7. Oregon 217

8. Oregon State 166

9. USC 163

10. Washington State 111

11. Arizona State 107

12. Utah 78

Note: First-place votes in parentheses