Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi hugs Damyean Dotson during last year’s Pac-12 Conference tournament final. The Ducks’ strong finish to the 2012-13 season makes them a team to watch this year.

Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star


•  Back issues 2012-13: 27-8 overall, 12-6 Pac-12, second place

•  Mentor: Sean Miller (96-43 in four years at Arizona, 216-90 in nine years overall)

•  Superhero: Aaron Gordon. The freshman phenom drew league-wide praise at Pac-12 media day.

•  Sidekick: Nick Johnson. A star, he’ll share top billing this year with the league’s top freshman phenom.

•  Nemesis: UCLA. The Wildcats went 0-3 against the Bruins last season.

•  Superpower: Depth. The dividends of stellar recruiting are starting to get realized.

•  Kryptonite: Experience. The Wildcats have plenty of talent, but do they have the poise to topple the country?

•  One-sentence storyline: How far will the Wildcats go?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at San Diego State, Nov. 14. Get past the high-rising Aztecs, and the Wildcats could finish non-conference play unblemished.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best bench ever.”


•    Back issues 2012-13: 22-13, 9-9, sixth place

•  Mentor: Herb Sendek (119-108 in seven years at Arizona State, 373-266 in 20 years overall)

•  Superhero: Jahii Carson. After being forced to sit out a year because of ineligibility, Carson took vengeance on the conference last season.

•  Sidekick: Jermaine Marshall. The Penn State transfer should help ASU field the conference’s top backcourt.

•  Nemesis: Arizona. The Sun Devils were done in by their in-state rivals by a total of 33 points.

•  Superpower: Speed. Carson and Marshall should push the tempo to full throttle.

•  Kryptonite: Depth. The starting five stacks up with the rest of the league, but the Sun Devils need some subs to emerge.

•  One-sentence storyline: Carson takes on the world

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Arizona, Jan. 16. Four days after heading to UCLA, the Sun Devils have to head down to Tucson.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best guards ever.”


•    Back issues 2012-13: 21-12, 12-6, fourth place

•  Mentor: Mike Montgomery (109-59 in five years at Cal, 656-306 in 31 years overall)

•  Superhero: Justin Cobbs. A dual-threat, Cobbs averaged 15.1 points and finished fourth in the conference in assists.

•  Sidekick: Jabari Bird. Monty’s top recruit at Cal, the top-25 prospect is expected to thrive and do so early.

•  Nemesis: Chasson Randle. The Stanford star scored a combined 35 points in two wins over the Bears.

•  Superpower: Returners. Cal brings back four of five starters from an NCAA tournament team.

•  Kryptonite: Explosiveness. The Bears are solid all-around, but may lack that singular star to take on Arizona or Colorado.

•  One-sentence storyline: Bird takes flight

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Stanford, Jan. 2. The Bears open the conference slate with a big matchup against the Bay Area rivals.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best freshman ever.”


•    Back issues 2012-13: 21-12, 10-8, fifth place

  Mentor: Tad Boyle (69-37 in three years at Colorado, 126-103 in 7 years overall)

•  Superhero: Spencer Dinwiddie. Underrated out of high school, Dinwiddie is a smooth jumper away from stardom.

•  Sidekick: Askia Booker. Plucked from Los Angeles like Dinwiddie, Booker helps form a potent one-two punch.

•  Nemesis: Arizona State. The Sun Devils’ Jordan Bachynski had 12 blocks in two wins over the Buffaloes.

•  Superpower: Balance. Buffaloes have good mix of young and old, strength and speed, talent and experience.

•  Kryptonite: Size. Colorado might not have the post presence to snag the league title, but the Buffs are close.

•  One-sentence storyline: Can Colorado climb higher?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Cal, March 8. The Buffaloes play five of their last seven games on the road, closing out with the Bears.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best balance ever.”


•    Back issues 2012-13: 28-9, 12-6, third place

•  Mentor: Dana Altman (73-36 in three years at Oregon, 483-279 in 24 years overall)

•  Superhero: Johnathan Loyd. In the vein of Isaiah Thomas and Nate Robinson, Loyd is faster than a speeding bullet.

•  Sidekick: Mike Moser. The UNLV transfer has to return to his Rebel form from 2011-12, when he was true double-double threat.

•  Nemesis: Cal. A pair of losses to the Bears dashed the Ducks’ conference championship dreams.

•  Superpower: Coaching. Altman has been a master at cobbling together a successful formula.

•  Kryptonite: Chemistry. At the same time, once more, the Ducks are built almost from scratch.

•  One-sentence storyline: Can Oregon come together?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Colorado, Jan. 5. Should be one of the better early conference battles.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best transfers ever.”


•   Back issues 2012-13: 14-18, 4-14, 11th place

•  Mentor: Craig Robinson (77-88 in five years at Oregon State, 107-116 in seven years overall)

•  Superhero: Roberto Nelson. Nelson averaged better than 17 points per game last year but will look to be more of a distributor.

•  Sidekick: Angus Brandt. Derailed by a torn ACL early last season, Brandt is expected to be healthy for the Beavers

•  Nemesis: Stanford. The Cardinal bested the Beavers twice last year, winning by a total of 18 points.

•  Superpower: Experience. Oregon State is long in the tooth, but is there enough talent?

•  Kryptonite: Talent. Robinson just doesn’t have the horses to make a major leap, plus Eric Moreland is suspended for 14 games.

•  One-sentence storyline: Can the Beavers survive early suspensions?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Colorado, Jan. 2. The Beavers should cruise through non-conference, but the Buffs should be a good early conference test.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best scorers ever.”


•    Back issues 2012-13: 19-15, 9-9, seventh place

•  Mentor: Johnny Dawkins (93-73 in five years at Stanford, 93-73 in five years overall)

•  Superhero: Dwight Powell. The conference’s most improved player a year ago, odds are he won’t sneaking up on anyone this year.

•  Sidekick: Chasson Randle. Has the chance to form potent inside-outside duo with Powell.

•  Nemesis: USC. It’s one thing to have lost both games against UCLA last year, but to drop two to USC by a total of three points really hurts.

•  Superpower: Size. Between Powell and Josh Huestis, few teams in conference can match Stanford’s bigs.

•  Kryptonite: Skill. Despite the size advantage, the Cardinal still finished last in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage last year.

•  One-sentence storyline: Cardinal rules the post

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at Connecticut, Dec. 18. Does Stanford have the bigs to match up with the Huskies?

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best center ever.”


•    Back issues 2012-13: 25-10, 13-5, first place

•  Mentor: Steve Alford (first year at UCLA, 463-235 in 22 years overall)

•  Superhero: Kyle Anderson. The conference’s best pure passer, Anderson has the chance to be special this year.

•  Sidekick: Jordan Adams. Started off on fire but needs to be more consistent in conference play.

•  Nemesis: Oregon. The Ducks quacked the Bruins twice last year, including in the Pac-12 tournament championship.

•  Superpower: Talent. A good core of returners plus a solid recruiting class should lead to wins.

•  Kryptonite: Experience. Aside from Travis and David Wear, this is a young group.

•  One-sentence storyline: Alford to the rescue?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: vs. Duke, Dec. 19. A premier matchup with the Blue Devils is a good litmus test.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best starters ever.”


•   Back issues 2012-13: 14-18, 9-9, ninth place

•  Mentor: Andy Enfield (first year at USC, 41-28 in two years overall)

•  Superhero: J.T. Terrell. Terrell led the Pac-12 with 2.47 three-pointers per game in conference play last year.

•  Sidekick: Byron Wesley. Averaged more than 10 points per game and turned it on from downtown during conference play.

•  Nemesis: Cal. The Bears were the lone conference opponent to beat the Trojans twice last year.

•  Superpower: Range. The Trojans lack post presence, but should be efficient from behind the arc.

•  Kryptonite: System. Enfield, the former Florida Gulf Coast coach who became the toast of the 2013 NCAA tournament, likes to push the tempo. But can the Trojans keep up?

•  One-sentence storyline: “Dunk City” heads west

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: at UCLA, Jan. 5. Enfield’s offseason statements will get their first test early.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best dunks ever.”


•   Back issues 2012-13: 15-18, 5-13, 10th place

•  Mentor: Larry Krystkowiak (21-43 in two years at Utah, 63-63 in four years overall)

•  Superhero: Jordan Loveridge. Just a sophomore, he’s on the cusp of the all-conference squad.

•  Sidekick: Delon Wright. A junior college transfer who could open some eyes.

•  Nemesis: Stanford. The Cardinal whupped the Utes by a total of 37 points last year.

•  Superpower: Resilience. Utes looked overmatched, but pulled out some nice late-season wins.

•  Kryptonite: Depth. The starting lineup isn’t even solved, much less the bench.

•  One-sentence storyline: Do Utes have the goods?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: vs. Oregon, Jan. 2. The Utes closed last season strong, now they need a good start.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best JC transfers ever.”


•    Back issues 2012-13: 18-16, 9-9, eighth place

• Mentor: Lorenzo Romar (237-129 in 11 years at Washington, 330-217 in 18 years overall)

•  Superhero: C.J. Wilcox. A veteran presence, Wilcox is an all-around threat who will contend for all-conference honors.

•  Sidekick: Nigel Williams-Goss. A talented floor leader, NWG could take over.

•  Nemesis: Oregon. Washington dropped three games to the Ducks, including a matchup in the Pac-12 tournament.

•  Superpower: Athleticism. The Huskies can certainly run for Romar.

•  Kryptonite: Talent. After years of first-round picks, UW is waning on talent.

•  One-sentence storyline: Is the shine off the Huskies?

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: vs. Colorado, Jan. 12. An early conference matchup will be telling.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best runners ever.”


•    Back issues 2012-13: 13-19, 4-14, 12th place

•  Mentor: Ken Bone (70-65 in four years at WSU, 409-255 in 22 years overall)

•  Superhero: Royce Woolridge. Has the opportunity to make this his team as Brock Motum is gone.

•  Sidekick: DaVonte Lacy. Solid but not spectacular, needs to work on his shot to be a true threat.

•  Nemesis: Washington. A total of 11 points in three losses separated the Cougars from their rivals.

•  Superpower: Backcourt. Lacy and Woolridge should be one of the most potent backcourt duos in the conference.

•  Kryptonite: Post play. The loss of Motum can not be understated.

•  One-sentence storyline: The Cougars can run

•  Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel: vs. Washington, Feb. 1. The Cougars open the second month of Pac-12 play with their bitter rivals.

•  Comic Book Guy says: “Best backcourt ever.”

— Compiled by Jon Gold