Yes, college basketball season is right around the corner. And the Pac-10 is where all of the hoops excitement figures to be this season. Today, the USA Today Coaches' Poll was released and six Pac-10 teams are ranked in the Top-25 -- more than any other conference.
Think about that for a second. The Big East has 16 teams and has five ranked teams, but the Pac-10 is the smallest of the "major" conferences, and 60-percent of its teams are ranked 21st or better. They are UCLA (No. 2), Washington State (No. 10), Oregon (No. 13), Arizona (No. 17), USC (No. 18), and Stanford (No. 21). I thought Washington had a chance of being ranked, but they're in the "Others Receiving Votes" category.
Locally there is much to be excited about. UCLA actually received the most first-place votes of any team, but North Carolina is slightly ahead on points. The Bruins may find themselves No. 1 in the AP poll. They return four of five starters from last year's Final Four team, and should be boosted by the presence of highly-touted freshman Kevin Love.
Across town, much has been written about USC prized recruit OJ Mayo. But the Trojans were already a team that made the Sweet 16 last season, and return Taj Gibson and Daniel Hackett among others. Freshman forward Davon Jefferson could also be a difference-maker.
With all of this talent in LA, it's no wonder that Tim Floyd is hoping that the USC-UCLA basketball rivalry could one day be as big as UNC-Duke.