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(In predicted order of finish)


1. Washington


Coach —

Lorenzo Romar (fourth season).

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Record —

10-1.


Starters —

F Bobby Jones, 6-6, Jr. (12.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg); F Mike Jensen, 6-9, Jr. (7.3, 4.7 rpg); G Will Conroy, 6-2, Sr. (10.5, 7.6 apg); G Brandon Roy, 6-6, Jr. (16.0, 3.4 rpg); G Nate Robinson, 5-9, Jr. (19.2, 5.4 apg).


Notes —

The Huskies still have not had an eligible and healthy roster for a full game. But tomorrow, it’s likely everyone will be available in their Pac-10 opener against Cal. Center Hakeem Rollins should be sufficiently recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery. Huskies are off to their best start in 29 years.


Best win —

North Carolina State, 68-64. Not only was it a win over a marquee opponent, but it proved Huskies could prevail at a slower tempo.


Worst loss —

At Gonzaga, 99-87. It’s also the only loss, and one that looks better all the time, especially considering Roy was out.


Bottom line —

The Huskies have a fast-paced offense that can produce both quick baskets and errant passes. But the team also has shown it can win in the half court, such as its victories over N.C. State and Alabama. Huskies are looking for first Pac-10 title since 1985.


2. Arizona


Coach —

Lute Olson (22nd season).


Record —

9-2 (final nonconference game tonight).


Starters —

F Ivan Radenovic, 6-10, Soph. (7.1, 3.6 rpg); C Channing Frye, 6-11, Sr. (12.9, 8.5 rpg); G Salim Stoudamire, 6-1, Sr. (14.4, 2.1 rpg); G Hassan Adams, 6-4, Jr. (12.5, 5.8 rpg); G Mustafa Shakur, 6-4, Soph. (8.3, 5.6 apg).


Notes —

The Wildcats lost their best player, forward Andre Iguodala, who declared for the NBA after his sophomore season. Also, reserve sophomore guard Beau Muhlbach transferred to Texas A&M.


Best win —

At Marquette, 48-43. Wildcats gutted out the kind of tough road win they might not have gotten a year ago.


Worst loss —

At Virginia, 78-60. Early blowout at hands of No. 25 Cavs showed this team is still vulnerable.


Bottom line —

The Wildcats, among the nation’s top-scoring teams last season, have had difficulty at times scoring during nonconference play. Stoudamire, with a history of scoring inconsistency, went scoreless Dec. 11 against Utah. Then on Dec. 21, he matched his career high with seven three-pointers (7 of 8) against Manhattan. The Wildcats’ 48 points against Marquette on Dec. 18 was the school’s lowest production in 19 seasons. Three games later they scored 105 points in the win over Manhattan. With the high level of play in conference, Cats can’t afford those kind of gyrations.


3. UCLA


Coach —

Ben Howland (second season).


Record —

6-2.


Starters —

F Josh Shipp, 6-5, Fr. (8.3, 4.3 rpg); F Dijon Thompson, 6-7, Sr. (17.6, 8.9 rpg); C Michael Fey, 7-0, Jr. (8.5, 4.3 rpg); G Arron Afflalo, 6-5, Fr. (12.5, 3.5 rpg); G Jordan Farmar, 6-2, Fr. (12.8, 5.3 apg).


Notes —

Second-year coach Ben Howland, who has a reputation for quickly turning around programs, may take significant strides this season. The Bruins’ strength rests with their great freshman class and five returning seniors, although most of the seniors come off the bench. One senior, guard Cedric Bozeman, the team’s starting point guard the past three seasons, had season-ending knee surgery Nov. 10.


Best win —

Michigan, 81-79. Young Bruins started to come of age down stretch to hold off Wolverines.


Worst loss —

Boston College, 74-64. All that youth looked young in loss to Eagles.


Bottom line —

Howland’s first recruiting class, one of the better ones in the nation, will be taking over the Bruins’ fortunes. Howland is starting three freshmen, including point guard Farmar, a potential star. There may be a learning curve, but the program appears headed back to the upper division.


4. Arizona State


Coach —

Rob Evans (seventh season).


Record —

10-1.


Starters —

F Ike Diogu, 6-8, Jr. (22.9, 10.2 rpg); F Serge Angounou, 6-8, Soph. (7.8, 6.1 rpg); G Steve Moore, 6-4, Sr. (13.2, 3.0 rpg); G Jason Braxton, 6-2, Sr. (4.3, 4.1 apg); G Bryson Krueger, 6-7, Soph. (7.5, 2.8 rpg).


Notes —

Diogu, who returned for his junior year instead of going to the NBA, is the clear favorite for conference player of the year. He had 21 points, a career-best 18 rebounds and a career-best seven blocks Dec. 22 against Santa Clara. Sun Devils have won eight straight, the longest win streak since the 1980-81 team won 11 straight. They are 10-1 for the first time since they opened the 1974-75 season 15-1.


Best win —

At Temple, 65-52. Temple is down this year, but it’s the biggest name opponent the Sun Devils have beaten so far.


Worst loss —

UTEP, 66-65. Diogu was in foul trouble much of game as UTEP rallied late.


Bottom line —

The Sun Devils have had the best player in the league, Diogu, the past couple years, but haven’t had much of a team around him. Through recruiting and injury recovery, Evans finally has gathered a more formidable squad.


5. USC


Coach —

Jim Saia (first season, interim coach)


Record —

7-4.


Starters —

F Nick Curtis, 6-8, Sr., (4.8, 2.5 rpg); F Nick Young, 6-6, Fr. (8.1, 4.1 rpg); C Rory O’Neil, 6-11, Sr. (10.5, 5.2 rpg); G Lodrick Stewart, 6-4, Soph. (14.4, 3.3 rpg); G Gabriel Pruitt, 6-4, Fr. (11.3, 4.3 apg).


Notes —

Three years removed from a 24-10 season and an Elite Eight appearance, the school fired nine-year coach Henry Bibby on Dec. 6. The administration had had it with his abrasive style. Jim Saia is 5-2 as the interim coach. … Rodrick Stewart from Rainier Beach has transferred to Kansas. His twin brother Lodrick, is a starting guard. In the last seven games, Lodrick is averaging 17.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting 49.8 percent.


Best win —

UAB, 81-78. Trojans got a win in Hawaii over team that knocked Huskies out of NCAA tournament a year ago.


Worst loss —

At LaSalle, 71-62. Dispirited performance was last loss of the Bibby era.


Bottom line —

On the surface, the program seems in turmoil. But with six seniors on the roster, the Trojans have enough talent to contend. Freshman point guard Pruitt is off to a solid start. Senior forward Gregg Guenther, the former football tight end, gives the team inside muscle. The Trojans have plenty of game-tested experience in the other seniors, guards Derrick and Errick Craven, O’Neil and forwards Jeff McMillan and Curtis.


6. Oregon


Coach —

Ernie Kent (ninth season).


Record —

8-1.


Starters —

F Ian Crosswhite, 7-0, Jr. (11.6, 6.3 rpg); C Mitch Platt, 6-10, Soph. (3.3, 2.6 rpg); G Malik Hairston, 6-6, Fr. (14.3, 5.1 rpg); G Bryce Taylor, 6-5, Fr., (11.9, 3.2 rpg); G Aaron Brooks, 6-0, Soph. (15.3, 5.8 apg).


Notes —

Oregon has no seniors on its roster for the first time since 1995-96. The Ducks’ six newcomers, including touted freshman guards Hairston and Taylor, accounted for nearly half the team’s scoring and rebounding during nonconference play.


Best win —

At Fresno State, 83-82. Ducks handed Bulldogs their first loss of season in a tough place to play.


Worst loss —

Illinois, 83-66 (at Chicago). Not much shame in losing what was basically a road game against No. 1 team in country.


Bottom line —

Brooks, from Seattle’s Franklin High, scored a career-high 25 points Dec. 22 against Winthrop, but might need to dish a little more. The Ducks, who never fall far, have nicely recovered from the loss of the two Lukes and should stay in the hunt.


7. Stanford


Coach —

Trent Johnson (first season).


Record —

6-4.


Starters —

F Dan Grunfeld, 6-6, Jr. (16.7, 5.8 rpg); F Matt Haryasz, 6-11, Jr. (9.8, 8.1 rpg); C Rob Little, 6-10, Sr. (10.0, 4.1 rpg); G Nick Robinson, 6-6, Sr., (6.2, 4.1 rpg); G Chris Hernandez, 6-2, Jr. (13.1, 3.8 apg).


Notes —

No conference team was hurt more by departures. Guard Matt Lottich, forwards Justin Davis and Joe Kirchofer graduated, and forward Josh Childress, the Pac-10 player of the year, left after his junior year for the NBA. Also, Mike Montgomery, the sixth winningest coach in Pac-10 history, scooted to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.


Best win —

San Francisco, 93-83. Opening overtime win against USF team that is now 8-3 is best Stanford has to offer.


Worst loss —

At Santa Clara, 86-76. Other losses to Tennessee, Louisville and Michigan State.


Bottom line —

Even though Johnson is a former Stanford assistant and has a similar philosophy as Montgomery, adjustments will be expected. Players need to fill the leadership roles vacated by the departed. The Cardinal has finished first or second for the past eight years but that string of success is in jeopardy.


8. California


Coach —

Ben Braun (ninth season).


Record —

7-3.


Starters —

F Dominic McGuire, 6-8, Soph. (6.8, 4.9 rpg); F Rod Benson, 6-10, Jr. (11.9, 4.1 rpg); C DeVon Hardin, 6-10, Fr. (5.5, 5.4 rpg); G Marquise Kately, 6-5, Soph. (11.1, 5.4 rpg); G Richard Midgley, 6-2, Jr. (16.0, 3.9 rpg).


Notes —

The Bears do not have a senior. But they also don’t have two sophomores critical to their success, injured forward Leon Powe and guard Ayinde Ubaka. Powe, the Pac-10 freshman of the year, had season-ending knee surgery Sept. 8. Ubaka has been sidelined since Nov. 23 with a broken foot but is expected back in mid-January. Bears are down to eight healthy scholarship players.


Best win —

At San Diego State, 60-57. Bears held Aztecs to lowest point total of year on home floor.


Worst loss —

Saint Mary’s, 61-52. Bears held to lowest point total of season.


Bottom line —

With three freshmen playing key roles, the team has been inconsistent and unable to close out games. Four of their five losses have been by a combined 10 points. The Bears have relied on defense as only one opponent has scored more than 70 points.


9. Washington State


Coach —

Dick Bennett (second season).


Record —

5-4.


Starters —

F Shami Gill, 6-7, Sr. (3.0, 4.3 rpg); C Robbie Cowgill, 6-10, Fr. (5.7, 3.1 rpg); G Jeff Varem, 6-6, Sr. (7.1, 7.3 rpg); G Derrick Low, 6-1, Fr. (4.8, 1.5 apg); G Thomas Kelati, 6-5, Sr. (12.2, 3.9 rpg).


Notes —

Second-year coach Dick Bennett, a believer in a deliberate game, has brought in players to mesh with his style. He has started three true freshmen twice this season, the first time WSU has ever done that.


Best win —

BYU, 49-46. BYU is just 3-8, but Cougars rallied late to get much-needed win in Salt Lake City.


Worst loss —

At Oklahoma State, 81-29. Cowboys may be one of the best teams in the country, but Cougars were feeble nonetheless.


Bottom line —

Things are changing on the Palouse. With freshmen such as guard Derrick Low and center Robbie Cowgill, the Cougars will win more often.


10. Oregon State


Coach —

Jay John (third season).


Record —

8-3.


Starters —

F David Lucas, 6-8, Sr. (13.0, 3.0 rpg); C Sasa Cuic, 6-10, Fr. (14.5, 5.9 rpg); G Jason Fontenet, 5-10, Jr. (8.0, 1.5 rpg); G Lamar Hurd, 6-4, Jr. (3.1, 3.5 rpg); G J.S. Nash, 6-2, Sr. (10.7, 4.0 rpg).


Notes —

Lucas, who missed the first 10 games after surgery Oct. 28 to repair his right big toe tendon, returned Tuesday. He played 17 minutes and scored 13 points in an 86-59 win over Sacramento State. Also, sharp-shooting sophomore guard Angelo Tsagarakis has recovered enough from shoulder surgery in September to resume practicing. Both should be up to the rigors of Pac-10 play.


Best win —

Colorado, 98-87. Beavers were stumbling before breaking through against the Buffs.


Worst loss —

At UNLV, 86-61. OSU’s other two losses were by two points each (Georgia, East Carolina).


Bottom line —

With early-season injuries, the bench has stepped up to average 24.3 points. That makes them deeper as Lucas and Tsagarakis return. Lucas is the key to respectability.