If the Pac-12 men’s basketball preseason poll is any indication, it could be a tough first season for Craig Smith as head coach of the Utah Runnin’ Utes.
The poll, released Wednesday, has the Utes picked to finish 10th in the conference. It marks the lowest they’ve been picked to finish since their first two years in the conference when Larry Krystkowiak was in the midst of a massive program rebuild.
Utah finished eighth in the conference last season with an 8-11 record in Pac-12 play, although Smith doesn’t have nearly as tall of a task as Krystkowiak did when he took over in 2011.
The Utes have exceeded preseason poll projections in eight of their 10 seasons in the Pac-12 and matched the other two seasons. Smith had major success in three seasons at Utah State prior to taking over at Utah, as the Aggies made the NCAA Tournament all three years.
The UCLA Bruins have been picked to win the Pac-12 this season after making a surprise run to the Final Four as an 11-seed in the NCAA Tournament last spring.
The full results of the poll are as follows:
- Oregon State (tie with Arizona)
- Arizona State
- Washington State