The outside expectations surrounding the Colorado men’s basketball team officially have turned up a notch.
On Tuesday, head coach Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes ascended to uncharted territory by finishing second in the annual Pac-12 Conference preseason men’s basketball poll. The Buffs had never previously finished higher than third, a mark they reached in 2013 and 2014, and the 288 points compiled by CU was its second-highest mark in nine seasons in the league, trailing only their 316 points in 2014.
CU and Oregon collected nine first-place votes apiece. Overall, the Buffs trailed the Ducks by only three points in a very narrow vote among the top four teams. The point margin between first and second was the fourth-smallest in the 36-year history of the league’s preseason poll. It also was just the second time two teams shared the lead for the most first-place votes.
After CU and Oregon, the remainder of the first-place votes went to Washington (6), Arizona (2), and USC (1). It was only the third time in league history that five teams received first-place votes.
“There’s a lot of excitement, and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t see it and we don’t get happy about it,” CU point guard McKinley Wright told the Pac-12 Network. “But our main thing is just trying to block out the noise, trying to block out everybody, and come to practice every day and work. We’ve still got some work to do. We’ve got to get better, and we’re going to try to hang our hat on defense and rebounding.”
The Buffs hadn’t finished higher than fifth in the preseason media poll over the previous four seasons, finishing seventh in 2015, fifth in 2016, ninth in 2017, and seventh last year.
Rounding out the preseason poll behind CU was Washington (273 points), Arizona (263), USC (198), Arizona State (187), Oregon State (161), UCLA (148), Utah (131), Stanford (84), Washington State (47), and Cal (35).
For the first time the Pac-12 sponsored a preseason media all-conference team, and CU’s Wright and Tyler Bey landed spots on the 10-player first team. Both players earned first team All-Pac-12 honors last spring, and the Buffs are the first league team to return two first-team selections since Cal in the 2009-10 season (Patrick Christopher, Jerome Randle).
Oregon State’s Tres Tinkle, the only other returning first-team selection from last year, also earned a spot on the preseason list, as did Washington freshmen Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart; Arizona freshman Nico Mannion; Washington State guard CJ Elleby; USC forward Nick Rakocevic; ASU guard Remy Martin; and Oregon guard Payton Pritchard, one of the stars of the Ducks’ run to the Sweet 16 last spring.
The second team was comprised of Utah’s Timmy Allen; Oregon freshman N’Faly Dante; Stanford junior Daejon Davis; Arizona freshman Josh Green; and Oregon State’s Ethan Thompson.
Not leaving Las Vegas
The Pac-12 announced it has extended its agreement to play the men’s and women’s conference tournaments in Las Vegas through 2022. The men’s tournament will continue to be held at T-Mobile Arena, though this season the women’s tournament will move from the MGM Grand Garden Arena to the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
All-tournament passes for the men’s and women’s Pac-12 tournaments are available at Pac-12.com/tickets…Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle was given a one-year contract extension through the 2022-23 season.
2019-20 Pac-12 men’s basketball preseason poll
|1. Oregon (9)||25-13||291|
|2. Colorado (9)||23-13||288|
|3. Washington (6)||27-9||273|
|4. Arizona (2)||17-15||263|
|5. USC (1)||16-17||198|
|6. Arizona State||23-11||187|
|7. Oregon State||18-13||161|
|11. Washington State||11-21||47|
Pac-12 preseason media all-conference teams
|CJ Elleby||Washington State||So.||F|
|Remy Martin||Arizona State||Jr.||G|
|Tres Tinkle||Oregon State||Sr.||F|
|McKinley Wright IV||Colorado||Jr.||G|
|Ethan Thompson||Oregon State||Jr.||G|
|Honorable Mention (received votes from four-or-more members of the media): Nahziah Carter (Jr., Washington), Quade Green (So., Washington), Chase Jeter (R-Sr., Arizona), Kylor Kelley (Sr., Oregon State), Jonah Mathews (Sr., USC), Isaiah Mobley (Fr., USC), C.J. Walker (Fr., Oregon).|