Pac-12 basketball was down last season, and you could make an argument two of the conference's three best teams came out of the Bay Area. The California Golden Bears had a fine season before being drubbed in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, and the Stanford Cardinal cruised to an NIT championship.
Both teams (and especially Cal) will lose quite a bit in 2012-13, but they're still expected to be competitive in a very improved conference.
Doug Gottlieb of ESPN recently released his preseason Pac-12 power rankings.
Here's what they had to say about California. They were ranked third behind Arizona and UCLA.
3. California Golden Bears
Just as a reminder, in the interest of full disclosure, my brother Gregg is an assistant coach on Cal's staff. The Bears are one of two NCAA teams from the Pac-12 last season, and now Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs return, as does suspended power forward Richard Solomon. Tyrone Wallace will compete with Ricky Kreklow for the other wing spot, as Cal finally has some depth both inside and out.
And here is Stanford, who appear to be underrated at No. 8.
8. Stanford Cardinal
After winning the NIT, things are finally looking up for Johnny Dawkins on The Farm. Chasson Randle and Anthony Brown will have to work in talented frosh bigs Rosco Allen and Grant Verhoeven, but the Cardinal gained a ton of winning experience last postseason that hopefully will carry over into the 2012-13 campaign.