We talked to college basketball expert Kevin Sweeney of Sports Illustrated before the season, seeking his insights into Pac-12 basketball.
Sweeney talked about the team picked to finish ahead of USC in the Pac-12 standings, the Arizona Wildcats. Arizona is expected to win the league, with USC predicted to finish second in most preseason polls and rankings lists.
“It helps that USC has two traditional centers who are big-time athletes who should be able to match up with (Oumar) Ballo. I also think Arizona’s going to be a little bit smaller this year. They’re probably going to start Keshad Johnson from San Diego State at the four. He’s 6-7, 6-8. He had an amazing career at San Diego State. He’s a great defender. I think his offensive game will be unlocked by playing for Tommy Lloyd, but he is not (yet there) in terms of his skill level. His impact is more defense and rebounding, switchability, things like that,” Sweeney told us.
“Now they have some international kids who should potentially play right away in the frontcourt and give them a chance to be a little bit bigger. I do think we’re going to see a little bit more three guards, a traditional power forward and the center for Arizona, how that will match up.
“I’m excited to watch how Caleb Love plays against USC. Caleb is one of the most polarizing players in the last decade of college basketball because of how high the highs have been and how low the lows have been. I do think he’s in a good situation at Arizona, with a coach who can potentially rein him in. They’re going to need Kylen Boswell, their starting point guard, to have a big-time leap as a sophomore. He was a re-class kid, played part of the year last year. I think USC probably wins in the backcourt, but Arizona has a coach that has gotten a number one and a number two seed in two years as a head coach. They’ve got tremendous talent. They’ve got one of the better big men in the country. Those are all checkmarks in their favor and reasons why I think this is probably a preseason top-15-type team.”