Sean Miller’s squad returns this year as NCAAB odds makers’ top choice in the Pacific-12 Conference, while listed at a price of 17/1 to win it all.
Wildcats start and finish strong
Arizona began last year’s campaign winning 14 straight games, rising as high as No. 3 in national rankings. The stretch saw the Wildcats cash with a 6-1 spread record in their first seven ‘board’ battles, including a 65-64 upset of No. 5 Florida as a two-point home dog.
Arizona ended its regular season with a 73-58 triumph over the Arizona State Sun Devils, while losing in the Pacific-12 Tournament semifinals to the UCLA Bruins, 66-64. Wildcats mates Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill then led their side’s scoring in the NCAA Championship Tournament, collecting with a 3-0 ATS mark over the trio of “Big Dance” affairs.
Gordon, Hollis-Jefferson climb aboard
Lyons and Hill have since departed the Wildcats, while Miller has reloaded with top-recruit forwards Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Gordon piled in big numbers (21.6 PPG and 15.7 RPG) as part of his senior year with Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, CA. Hollis-Jefferson heads west from Chester, PA, while ranked as this year’s No. 21 overall prospect by ESPN and Rivals.
Wildcats guards Jordin Mayes and Nick Johnson begin their senior and junior years, respectively. Johnson shot 48.3 percent from the field last year, while leading in assists (3.2 APG) and steals (1.9 SPG).
Wildcats await NIT, Michigan
Arizona’s first early test this year will come as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off, taking part as one of the tourney’s top favorites for our NCAA Bassketball Picks. The Wildcats may end up facing the Duke Blue Devils as part of the competition’s final matchups in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
December’s schedule has a road date for Arizona against the Michigan Wolverines, while Pacific-12 play begins in January with a pair of home affairs with the Washington State Cougars and Washington Huskies. Arizona’s toughest conference rivals this year expect to be the Colorado Buffaloes, UCLA Bruins and Oregon Ducks.
Check the picks NIT tournament preview~
Arizona poised for a top seed
Arizona should be in position to run the table out of the gate, similar to last year’s starting surge. The key road dates at Michigan, UCLA and its regular-season finale against Oregon will likely decide the squad’s seeding fate come tournament time.
The Wildcats have the right mix of new scoring blood in Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson, while Nick Johnson remains solid in the backcourt. Jordin Mayes should also see some more minutes, while quietly hitting 75 percent from the foul line last year.
Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski returns at center, following a first year of connecting at 53.8 percent from the field. Look for “Zeus” to have some big presence in the middle again this year, giving the Wildcats a chance at being a top seed from the West.