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October 17, 2013

Rivals.com Pac-12 Media Poll

The 2013-2014 Pac-12 Media Poll will be released at today's Media Day event in San Francisco, collecting votes from prominent media members in each program's media market to provide a forecast of how they see the conference playing out this season.

In anticipation of that, a poll was put together featuring six of the most prominent basketball media members from Rivals.com's Pac-12 affiliates. Each media member voted on their predicted order of finish in the league, Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. A total list was then compiled of All Pac-12 candidates, with the top-twelve vote getters being featured here.

Pac-12 Rivals.com Media Poll

1.) Arizona
2.) Colorado
3.) UCLA
4.) Oregon
5.) California
6.) Arizona State
7.) Washington
8.) Stanford
9.) USC
10.) Utah
11.) Oregon State
12.) Washington State

Player of the Year (Number of Votes):
Spencer Dinwiddie (3)
Justin Cobbs
Jahii Carson
Aaron Gordon

Defensive Player of the Year (Number of Votes):
Jordan Bachynski (4)
Kaleb Tarczewski
Nick Johnson

Freshman of the Year (Number of Votes):
Aaron Gordon (4)
Jordan Bell
Nigel Williams-Goss

All Pac-12 Team (Leading Vote Getters):

G Spencer Dinwiddie, COLO
G Jahii Carson, ASU
G Justin Cobbs, CAL
G C.J. Wilcox, WASH
G Jordan Adams, UCLA
G Roberto Nelson, OSU
F Kyle Anderson, UCLA
F Dwight Powell, STAN
F Aaron Gordon, ARIZ
F Travis Wear, UCLA
C Josh Scott, COLO
C Jordan Bachynski, ASU

BuffStampede.com's Analysis:

When looking at the Rivals.com Media Poll, there are a couple of things that jump out at me right away. First of all, Arizona received a first-place vote on every single ballot, making them the unanimous favorite among media members to win the conference. Why is this worth noting? Because the Wildcats, while extremely talented, have clear holes that will need filling some conference play. Perimeter scoring is very much a question in Tucson, as Nick Johnson is the lone returner at a guard spot that has produced at the Pac-12 level.

Next thing that catches my eye is the complete disrespect thrown at Johnny Dawkins and Stanford. The Cardinal return every starter from a 19-win team a year ago, including a first-team all-conference selection in Dwight Powell, yet they come in at a shocking ninth-place in the poll. Perhaps our voters are still too skeptical of Dawkins' mediocre resume in Palo Alto to give them much credit, but don't be surprised one bit if Stanford finishes much higher than this spot.

Other notes include the respect given to the Buffaloes, picked to finish second, despite their youth. Washington's backcourt is responsible for having them so high in the poll, though their frontcourt looks like be an offensive nightmare (for Huskies fans). Also, my big-time sleeper pick in this year's Pac-12 is Utah. The Utes lose their starting center from a year ago, but return both Jordan Loveridge, one of the conference's most underrated talents, and guard Brandon Taylor. Reports out of Salt Lake City also have Delon Wright as, perhaps, a dark horse all-conference candidate.

When looking at the individual awards voted on, it's hard to see anything too shocking. Spencer Dinwiddie leads the way with three votes for Player of the Year, which could come as a shock to some who only follow national coverage, which has painted Jahii Carson as a near "can't miss" pick for the honor. Votes for Justin Cobbs and Aaron Gordon surprised me though, as Cobbs will likely have to share the scoring load with Jabari Bird and Tyrone Wallace; Cobbs also isn't a pass-first point guard, so it's hard for me to imagine his stat line being anything that screams, "Player of the Year." Gordon is someone who could very well win Freshman of the Year, but I'm not sold on him as a scorer at the high-major level quite yet.

Defensive Player of the Year was quite definitive, with Arizona State's Jordan Bachynski getting the nod four times, including from me. Bachynski is a good bet to lead the league in blocked shots, as Arizona State's guards are known to funnel defenders into the lane, where the seven-foot Bachynski waits (sometimes, violently). I also like the pick for Nick Johnson, as he averaged nearly a block per game and basically two steals per game as well. For a two guard, that's impressive.

The race for Freshman of the Year was deemed to be a one-man competition, except for one vote going to Jordan Bell. However, Bell has yet to be cleared by the NCAA due to a low-score on the SAT, but the feeling in Eugene is that he'll likely qualify, join the team in January and spend his first season on a redshirt. Gordon may not average a jaw-dropping amount of points per game, but he still may be the best player than Arizona puts on the floor this year. It wouldn't shock me if he averaged close to a double-double, while also generating his share of steals, blocks and assists. He'll made the hustle plays that others won't want to, being that his motor is unquestionably his best attribute. A few other names to remember in this race would be Nigel Williams-Goss up at Washington, Jabari Bird at California, Zach LaVine at UCLA and even Wesley Gordon at CU.

Finally, there was a lot of variation at the tail end of the All Pac-12 ballots. Dinwiddie, Carson and Powell were the top vote getters, while others like Cobbs, C.J. Wilcox, Bachynski and Kyle Anderson were featured prominently. What's most impressive about the conference this year, is this list is 12 players long, two longer than the official end-of-season list, and there are still deserving players left off.

Guys like Xavier Johnson, Brandon Ashley at Arizona, Chasson Randle at Stanford, Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson at Oregon, and more were left off, but the argument could be made for each of them to be included.

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