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October 17, 2013

Wildcats 2 votes shy of unanimous preseason Pac-12 pick

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Arizona is widely considered a preseason top-10 team by various publications. The Pac-12 Conference media thinks highly of the Wildcats, as well.

For a second consecutive year, UA was picked to win the league in a media poll vote released Thursday morning in San Francisco. Head coach Sean Miller's squad picked up 21 of 23 first-place votes and finished with 273 points.

UCLA (212) and Colorado (211), which finished second and third, respectively, picked up the other two first-place nods.

The Wildcats, led by junior guard Nick Johnson, return three-fifths of the starting lineup that advanced to last season's Sweet 16. Expected to play a major role in the upcoming season is freshman Aaron Gordon, the No. 3-ranked player in the 2013 class, according to Rivals.com.

Arizona also checked in at No. 5 in the USA Today Top 25 preseason coaches' poll - the highest rank for any Pac-12 school.

The Bruins won last season's regular-season title but return without last season's co-Pac-12 freshman of the year, Shabazz Muhammad, who bolted for the NBA, and with a new head coach in Steve Alford.

The Buffaloes, led by all-conference guard Spencer Dinwiddie, earned their highest preseason slot since collecting a sixth-place nod in 2003-04, when they were in the Big 12 Conference.

Defending tournament champion Oregon was picked fourth, followed by California, Stanford, Arizona State, Washington, Utah, Oregon State, USC and Washington State.

The media has correctly picked the conference champion 12 times in 21 tries, but has not claimed the crown in each of the last three years. Arizona has won the Pac-12 in seven of the 12 years it was picked in the poll.

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Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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