Basketball: Bears picked to win Pac-10, earn highest pre-season AP ranking in 16 years

The Pac-10 media have picked Cal to win the conference title, and the Associated Press poll has the Bears at No. 13, their highest pre-season ranking since 1993-94. Cal has not started the season ranked in the AP poll since 1995-96, when they were 25th to begin the season.

The Bears were voted No. 12 nationally by the coaches in the ESPN/USA Today poll. In both the AP and coaches polls, Washington checked in exactly one spot behind Cal.

As expected, Kansas was voted No. 1 in both pre-season polls, with Michigan State and Texas at second and third.

In the Pac-10’s annual basketbal media poll, Cal was voted No. 1 in a survey of 37 voters, earning 25 first-place ballots. Defending champion Washington, which had seven first-place votes, finished second and UCLA was third, picking up the final five first-place votes.

Stanford wound up last in the media poll.

The Bears were voted No. 1 in the conference pre-season poll just once before, in 1993-94, when they featured Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray. Cal also was No. 6 in the pre-season AP poll that season. That team wound up in a tie for second place in the final Pac-10 standings, then lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Cal has not won a regular-season conference title since 1960 — legendary coach Pete Newell’s final year.

The writers have correctly picked Pac-10 regular-season winner 10 of the past 17 seasons. The league’s coaches made the picks from 1990 through ’92, and got two of three years correct.

Over the past 20 seasons, Cal has exceeded expectations eight times, topped by last year when Mike Montgomery’s first team was picked to finish eighth and wound up third — five spots higher.

The Bears have failed to meet expectations 10 times, and have finished where they were predicted on two occasions. In fairness, they have wound up within one slot of where they were picked nine times.

Yearly Pac-10 Media Poll

Year  Picked No. 1   Actual No. 1   Cal pick   Cal actual
2010   Cal               ???                    1st             ???
2009   UCLA           Washington         8th            tied 3rd
2008   UCLA           UCLA                  7th            9th
2007   UCLA           UCLA                  5th            8th
2006   Arizona        UCLA                  5th            3rd 

2005   Arizona        Arizona               7th            tied 8th
2004   Arizona        Stanford              3rd            tied 4th
2003   Arizona        Arizona               5th            3rd
2002   UCLA           Oregon                5th            tied 2nd
2001   Arizona        Stanford             5th            tied 4th
2000   Arizona        Ariz/Stanford      6th            7th
1999   Stanford       Stanford            5th            tied 5th
1998   Arizona        Arizona              5th            tied 6th
1997   UCLA           UCLA                 6th            tied 2nd
1996   UCLA           UCLA                 5th            4th
1995   UCLA           UCLA                 3rd            tied 8th
1994   Cal              Arizona              1st            tied 2nd
1993   Arizona        UCLA                2nd            2nd
1992   Arizona        UCLA                6th            9th
1991   Arizona        Arizona             4th            tied 6th
1990   Arizona        Ariz/OSU          5th            3rd

Note: Pac-10 coaches made the picks from 1990 through ’92; writers have voted since then.

Jeff Faraudo

  • CM

    Hi Jeff,
    Good post. One correction…your Cal actual for 2006 has to be wrong. The Bears challenged UCLA for the Pac 10 title until the end of the season, and I think ended up finishing third in the conference.

  • Jeff Faraudo

    Thanks for the catch, CM. You were right — they finished third, and I’ve corrected it.