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Cal basketball: Can we win the Pac-12?

Now that we're heading into Pac-12 play, how do you think the Golden Bears will fare against our conference rivals? Have your predictions changed since the preseason?

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Vlad Belo: I think Cal will be all right in conference play, a contender. This is a good team that should get better as the season goes along. Monty has found a way to have his team in the conference title mix more often than not since coming to Cal, so I have no reason to believe he can't do the same with this team.

TwistNHook: Sadly, with the rise of Arizona, our window to win the Pac-12 may have tightened. We had our chances the last two years, but just couldn't execute against mediocre Stanford teams. :(.

Either way, if healthy, this is a really good team. We may not be able to knock off Zona (BUT I'LL BE THERE 2.1.14 SCREAMING MY HEAD OFF!), but I think we could come in 2nd. I like Cal's ability to bruise inside, while also shoot from the outside. We just need our star players to get healthy to keep all the freshmen from having to play at once.

Ruey Yen: My preseason prediction is that the Bears can be one of those teams that fight for second place in the conference behind Arizona. My current outlook for the team is still about the same, although I am a bit concerned about Cal's defensive shortcomings in recent games when the opponent only has one great player. Bears had issue with UCSB's Alan Williams and Nevada's Deonte Burton. Most of the good Pac-12 teams have better supporting cast to their star player.

Nevertheless, I am thrilled that the rest of the Pac (other than Washington) have done so well in the OOC schedule. There would be quite a few opportunities for the Bears to get some signature wins, if they could hang with the overall improvement around the Pac. I think we will see a similar result as the past few years with the Bears winning some big conference games, but then managed to drop some games that they can't really afford to lose. As long as the latter no longer comes at the hand of Stanfurd (they have lost Aaron Bright for the rest of the year), maybe those would be a little bit easier to stomach.

One more thing, this season in the uneven conference schedule means that the Bears will only play the Oregon schools on the road while avoiding the trip to the mountain schools (where Colorado is always very very dangerous).

LeonPowe: I still think we're right there with UCLA and UW fighting for second - fourth behind Arizona, but some losses have been concerning. We absolutely cannot afford to lose Kravish or Solomon - even though I mentioned I think Cobbs is the most important player on this team, I think we could fill in reasonably. Rooks just isn't ready to play big minutes so it'll be a two man front court (again!).

Sam Fielder: Much like Ruey, I thought that this was a team that would fight for 2nd place in the P12 after AZ. I still think that. But I also think that this team has the talent to compete with anyone when things are clicking, so it wouldn't shock me to see us knock off AZ at some point. Then again, as we've seen, when things go bad with this team, they really god bad, so losing to a lower tier P12 team wouldn't exactly surprise me either. But no, my predictions haven't changed and I think as the team grows and matures, Monty will coach them up, and come P12 tourney time they'll be firing on all cylinders and can make a deep run.