Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Coaches Vote Oregon Preseason Favorite
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SAN FRANCISCO - For the third-straight year, OREGON was voted the preseason favorite to win the 2019-20 Pac-12 Women’s Basketball regular-season title. The two-time defending regular-season champion garnered a maximum number of first-place votes (11) and collected 121 points. Defending Pac-12 Tournament champion STANFORD received the last-remaining first-place vote and was picked to finish second with 111 points. Rounding out the top three in the polling is OREGON STATE who garnered 99 points.
The poll was voted on by the league’s 12 head coaches. The Conference has administered a preseason poll every year since it began sponsoring women’s sports in 1986-87.
Coming off the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four, the Ducks welcome back Wade Trophy and Wooden Award winner and senior Sabrina Ionescu to lead a squad that returns four starters from last season’s team that won 33 games for the second-straight year.
The Cardinal has four starters back, as well, with 11 letterwinners in all returning from a team that upset the Ducks in the Pac-12 Tournament to win its 13th all-time crown. Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer adds four newcomers to the mix that also had a 30-win campaign. The four, which includes the No. 1 recruit in the country, were tabbed the No. 2 class in the nation.
The Beavers have the majority of their squad back, including its four starters. OSU is coming off its sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the fourth year in a row. Adding to it is a talented incoming class that was ranked in the top 20 in the country.
UCLA was tabbed to finish fourth by the coaches. The Bruins also welcome a top-25 recruiting class to join its nine-returning letterwinners, including three starters. UCLA has not finished lower than fourth the last four years, also advancing to at least the Sweet 16 during that span.
ARIZONA STATE scored 77 points for fifth in the polling ahead of ARIZONA, who tallied 73 points for sixth, its highest polling spot since 2005-06. ASU has a veteran squad returning, with 10 letterwinners back from last season’s NCAA Sweet 16 team. The Wildcats are coming off winning the WNIT crown, making the biggest turnaround of any team in the country last season, going from six wins in 2017-18 to 24 last season. UA also welcomes back the nation’s top-returning scorer in Aari McDonald.
UTAH garnered 58 points for seventh place, followed by USC (47 points) and WASHINGTON (35 points). The Utes, their highest pick since 2013-14, are coming off their best season since the 2012-13 campaign when it finished sixth. The Trojans have a highly-anticipated incoming class joining the squad which includes three top-50 recruits. The Huskies look to capitalize on a run in the Pac-12 Tournament last season that landed them in the semifinals after a pair of upsets, including a win in the quarterfinals against OSU.
Picked 10th, 11th and 12th were WASHINGTON STATE (34 points), CALIFORNIA (28 points) and COLORADO (16 points), respectively. The Cougars are led by two-time All-Pac-12 honoree Borislava Hristova who looks to close out her career becoming the first 2,000-point scorer in WSU history. Cal is under the direction of a new head coach Charmin Smith, who was also a long-time assistant coach. The Buffs are a young squad with just one senior and two juniors on the roster.
Pac-12 women’s basketball is in the midst of its most successful run of seasons, boasting the most NCAA Tournament wins of any conference over the last four years (55) and the best winning percentage in the tournament among peer leagues (.696). The Pac-12 earned six NCAA Tournament bids in 2018-19, marking the sixth-consecutive year at least five teams have received berths and the third-straight at least half the league was in the Big Dance, with at least three teams advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth year in a row straight year. With the Ducks’ appearance in the Final Four, a Pac-12 team has advanced that far in 10 of the last 12 years. Oregon was also the fifth different league team to appear in the Final Four since 2013.
Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day takes place today at Pac-12 Headquarters in San Francisco. Pac-12 Networks’ digital platforms will stream the podium sessions on pac-12.com, the Pac-12 Now app, Pac-12’s Facebook (@Pac12Conference) and Pac-12 Conference’s Twitter (@pac12) beginning with Commissioner Larry Scott’s opening remarks, followed by interviews from student-athletes and head coaches from all 12 institutions. “Inside Pac-12 Basketball: Women’s Basketball Media Day” will run from 12-3 p.m. PT. Behind-the-scenes footage and additional coverage will also be provided on the Pac-12 Networks’ Twitter (@pac12networks), Pac-12’s Facebook, Instagram (@pac12conference) and Snapchat (@pac12conference).
In addition, a one-hour Pac-12 women’s basketball special will air on ESPNU from 3-4 p.m. PT/6-7 p.m. ET. The show includes interviews with head coaches from all 12 teams, and will be hosted by Debbie Antonelli and Ashley Adamson.
The women’s basketball campaign officially tips off on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Visit pac-12.com for the full schedule.
Below are the results of the 2019 Pac-12 preseason coaches’ poll; coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams (points: 11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses).
2019-20 PAC-12 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL COACHES’ POLL
|Team (First Place)||Points|
|1. Oregon (11)||121|
|2. Stanford (1)||111|
|3. Oregon State||99|
|5. Arizona State||77|
|10. Washington State||34|