Huskies are overwhelming choice to win the Pac-10 men's basketball title. It's the first time Washington has been No. 1 in the Pac-10 media preseason poll.

LOS ANGELES — There’s no question who’s the lead Dawg in Pac-10 basketball.

Washington tallied 33 of 35 first-place votes and received 348 points in a preseason media poll, making the Huskies the early runaway favorites to win the conference championship for the second time in three years.

“I’m not going to sit here and say we don’t care about that,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “It’s a compliment to our program. However, we’ve been picked fifth before and won the league, so the predictions aren’t always accurate.”

Arizona and UCLA also received a first-place vote. The Wildcats collected 296 points and were picked second while the Bruins were third with 281 points.

Arizona State, last year’s runner-up, was fourth with 215 points and Washington State (191) fifth. USC, defending champion California, Oregon State, Stanford and Oregon rounded out the bottom half of the poll.

This is the first time Washington has landed atop the Pac-10 preseason poll.

Last year the Huskies were picked second in the preseason and finished third in the regular-season standings.

Senior guard Venoy Overton said the Huskies should be able to bear the weight of the expectations better than they did last season.

“It really doesn’t matter,” he said. “I guess you can say it’s a sign of respect that people say that you’re going to win it, but it doesn’t matter what people say. We’ve got to go out and still play.

“Last year we were picked as the favorites, too, us and Cal. So you really can’t get too caught up in that prediction stuff.”

Washington returns four starters, including all-conference junior guard Isaiah Thomas, from the team that won the Pac-10 tournament and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.

“It’s an honor, especially being the first UW team to be picked No. 1 since Romar has been here,” Thomas said. “It’s something that shows people respect us. And we know that coming into the season, we’re going to be a target.

“We’re going to have a bull’s-eye on our back and everybody is going to bring their A-game when they play against us, and we’ve just got to be ready for the good and the bad that comes with being picked No. 1 in the conference.”

In the 21 previous years that the Pac-10 poll was released, the predicted champion has won the title 14 times, including last year.

Washington begins the season No. 18 in The Associated Press poll, which was released Thursday. The Huskies are No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

Pac men forecast
The 2010-11 Pac-10 men’s basketball media poll. Voting by 35 media members was on a 10-9-8-etc. basis (first-place votes in parentheses).
School Points
1. Washington (33) 348
2. Arizona (1) 296
3. UCLA (1) 281
4. Arizona State 215
5. Washington State 191
6. USC 178
7. California 151
8. Oregon State 120
9. Stanford 98
10. Oregon 47