Here is how I voted in the Pac-12 Conference men's basketball preseason media poll. And yes, I felt like I had to wash my hands afterward from putting Arizona and USC first and second just two weeks after both programs had assistant coaches arrested in the ongoing FBI bribery and corruption probe that has rocked college basketball. Just remember this wasn't a morality vote, but a talent vote. Unfortunately, both teams are loaded, with Arizona expected to vie for a Final Four berth if the program's off-court issues don't get in the way.
How I voted, with each team's actually ranking in parenthesis:
1. Arizona (1): Despite the hovering scandal, the Wildcats may have the deepest, most talented team of coach Sean Miller's tenure. Allonzo Trier should be a player of the year candidate.
2. USC (2): The Trojans return just about everyone from a team that won a school-record 26 games. Senior Jordan McLaughlin might be the top point guard in the league.
3. UCLA (3): The roster has been slightly overhauled, with Lonzo Ball now across town with the Lakers, but the cupboard hardly is bare for coach Steve Alford. Aaron Holiday will take on a larger role, and Thomas Welsh has one of the sweetest shots among big men in the nation.
4. Oregon (4): The Ducks are trying to reload from last year's Final Four outfit via the addition of transfers. Elijah Brown, a graduate transfer from New Mexico, will make an impact.
5. Arizona State (6): The Sun Devils might finally be on the rise in coach Bobby Hurley's third season. ASU was suspect on defense last year, but it returns two of the top scorers in the league in Tra Holder and Shannon Evans.
6. Stanford (5): Second-year coach Jerod Haase owns an experienced roster, and fourth-year junior Reid Travis is one of the most underappreciated all-around players in the nation.
7. Oregon State (8): It was a lost season for the Beavers a year ago, due in large part to injuries. OSU returns Drew Eubanks and Stephen Thompson and will gladly welcome back Tres Tinkle, who averaged 13.1 points as a freshman before missing most of last year with a broken wrist.
8. Colorado (9): The Buffaloes simply are too young and inexperienced to expect much in Pac-12 play. But last year's experienced bunch started 0-7 in the Pac-12, so anything can happen.
9. Utah (7): I confess this was a tough one for me. On paper, the Utes don't return much. Yet coach Larry Krystkowiak always seems to get the Utes to play in a manner greater than the sum of their individual parts.
10. Washington (10): First-year head coach Mike Hopkins was the longtime heir apparent for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. Now he's tasked with rebuilding a UW program that lost top overall NBA draft pick Markelle Fultz.
11. Cal (11): Another first-year coach, Wyking Jones, is facing a rebuilding project after Ivan Rabb went pro and promising guard Charlie Moore transferred to Kansas.
12. Washington State (12): The Cougars graduated the bulk of a cast that won only seven league games over the past two years. It could be a long winter in Pullman.