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Pac-10 Media Day: USC Picked Sixth

The Pac-10 held its annual media day for basketball today in Los Angeles, which unsurprising, didn't produce a plethora of attention-grabbing headlines. But some interesting notes did emerge. Coach Kevin O'Neill decided to bring Nikola Vucevic to the event, as Kid Euro unquestionably remains the team's best player - at least until Jio Fontan is eligible. His English is good enough now, where he doesn't have much difficulty answering questions; so yes, he gets a free trip to LA Live. Interestingly, O'Neill also formally admitted during the Q&A that he did in fact dismiss Leonard Washington from the team, which had been reported but never officially confirmed.

As for the official media poll, USC has been picked to finish sixth in the conference, which generally feels like a safe prediction.

The Pac-10 hoops elite gathered inside Nokia Theater at LA Live today for the annual basketball meet and greet.

The preseason poll has USC picked to finish 6th.

1. Washington
2. Arizona
4. Arizona St.
5. Washington St.
6. USC
7. Cal
8. Oregon St.
9. Stanford
10. Oregon

It's not original for me to say that preseason polls are largely irrelevant, and therefore, so is this. Washington is clearly the class of the conference, as seen by its 33-out-of-35 first-place votes, and UCLA, based on its past history with Ben Howland at the helm, will understandably get the benefit of the doubt. But O'Neill and company have their own issues to worry about at 'SC in a season, in which sanctions are finally on the back burner.

A later date will serve as a more appropriate time to discuss expectations for 2011; the Oregon game is Saturday, but the team does need to find its way playing into March, no matter the quality of the tournament - The Big Dance, NIT, or even the CBI. This is a young but talented team. It needs experience, especially for a group that will likely only lose two players at the end of the year - Marcus Simmons and Alex Stepheson. Therefore, this season, unlike 2010, the team controls its own destiny. They can finish higher than sixth, and win the conference tournament. Sounds a bit silly, but after the way things went last winter, it's a welcomed changed. Regardless, it'll be an interesting season, which begins Nov. 13 at home against UC Irvine, no matter the outcome.