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Pivec

With senior Mikayla Pivec back, the Oregon State women's basketball team was picked to finish third in the Pac-12 this season by the conference coaches.

The Oregon State women’s basketball team was picked to finish third in the Pac-12 this season in a vote of the conference coaches.

Two-time reigning champion Oregon received 11 of the 12 first-place votes — coaches can’t vote for their own team — and 121 total points.

Stanford was picked second and received the other first-place vote for 111 points.

Oregon State (99) edged UCLA (93) for third with Arizona State (77) and Arizona (73) making up the rest of the top half.

Utah comes in at No. 7 with 58 points followed by USC (47), Washington (35), Washington State (34), California (28) and Colorado (16).

The past five champions have come from the state of Oregon — the Beavers won three straight before the Ducks won the last two.

Oregon returns four starters, including Sabrina Ionescu, the Wooden Award winner last year, and has added graduate transfer Minyon Moore from USC.

The Ducks won 33 games for a second straight season and reached their first Final Four before losing to eventual champion Baylor in the national semifinals.

Stanford also returns four starters and added the No. 2 national recruiting class. The Cardinal upset Oregon in the Pac-12 title game last season.

Oregon State returns all but two players off last year’s team that reached the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season. The Beavers also welcome in a strong freshman class, highlighted by McDonald’s All-American Kennedy Brown.

UCLA has three starters back, including Michaela Onyenwere and Japreece Deen, off a team that nearly upset UConn in the Sweet 16. The Bruins also have a top-25 recruiting class coming in this season.

ASU has 10 letterwinners back off a team that reached the Sweet 16 last season.

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Arizona received its highest preseason position since 2005-06 and is coming off a Women’s NIT title. The Wildcats return leading scorer Aari McDonald and Cate Reese, now a sophomore.

Pac-12 tourney stays in Vegas

The conference announced Monday morning that the men’s and women’s postseason tournaments will remain in Las Vegas through 2022.

The women’s tournament made its debut in Vegas last season with work being down to Seattle’s KeyArena, the site of the previous six tournaments.

The venue will change from the MGM Grand Arena to Mandalay Bay Events Center, the home of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

The men’s tournament will remain at T-Mobile Arena and will be held the week following the women’s event.

Scott excited about season

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said he this season could be one of te best for the conference, which has continued an upward swing on a national level.

The conference has had at least one team advance to the final four in 10 of the last 12 seasons, but a league school has not won a title since Stanford in 1992.

“What will be really fun to watch is we have really elite teams,” he said Monday morning at media day. “… What I’m looking for this year is to see if we have a team that’s going to make that next step which is holding the trophy up at the end of the NCAA tournament.”

With the likes of Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA, that is a possibility this season. But Scott also wants to see if the conference will be even stronger outside of those four teams.

“I’m also going to be watching to see with the increased depth that we have can we go beyond six teams, seven teams in the NCAA tournament?” he said. “A lot of that will come down to how we do nonconference so it’s really fun for me just to see the development top to bottom. There’s a lot of enthusiasm, high expectations really amongst all of our schools.”

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Albany Democrat-Herald and Corvallis Gazette-Times