LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Jorge Gutierrez #2 of the California Golden Bears drives on Maurice Jones #10 of the USC Trojans in the second half in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
The ESPN/USA Today preseason college basketball rankings are out, and the California Golden Bears find themselves inside the top 25. Who else made the list?
It's about that time of year again folks; The air is crisp and getting chilly, the fall foliage is starting to show it's colors. College students are back in the full swing of their semesters, and college basketball is right around the corner.
After a nice showing last season (17-14, 10-8 Pac-12) and returning a number of key players for this season, the California Golden Bears find themselves just inside USA Today/ESPN's preseason Top 25 rankings, coming in at 24th in the poll. Cal isn't the only West Coast team getting some love though as they are joined by a few other Pac-12 cronies as well.
UCLA finds themselves in 20th heading into the regular season, while the Arizona Wildcats come in at the highest ranked school from the west at 16th. West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga ranks 23rd in the nation in the preseason poll. Of course there are a number of East Coast juggernauts atop the rankings, with North Carolina coming in on top, getting 30 first place votes compared to only one for No. 2 Kentucky. Ohio State, Connecticut and Syracuse round out the top five, with the Duke Blue Devils patiently waiting in the wings at No. 6.
Looking ahead at the schedule Cal will have some tough competition along the way, but not really for the first few weeks of the season. Their first real test may come Friday, Dec. 23 on the road against UNLV, who got 16 votes for the Top 25 poll but didn't make the cut, then a few nights late on New Years Eve against No. 20 UCLA. They meet No. 16 Arizona only once, at home on Feb. 2, then get UCLA again on Feb. 11. There also are two meetings with Oregon, and a trip to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies as well.
North Carolina (30)