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4 Days ‘Til OSU Basketball: Can the Wildcats Stay on Top of the Pac?

After a succesful 2017-18 season, it may be best to adjust expectations for the Wildcats in this upcoming basketball year...

Buffalo v Arizona Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It is an important note to state that while there could be a whole additional article written for the FBI’s investigation into Sean Miller and the whole Arizona Wildcats Men’s Basketball team, we want to stick to seasonal related topics. These investigations will undoubtedly influence Arizona’s season, but this article would never end if we dove into every bit of Sean Miller’s shady duration with the WIldcats. For now, we’re focusing solely on the court for U of A.

With that being said, the Wildcats were not selected to win the Pac-12 conference, or at least tie it, for the first time in quite a while. The Wildcats lost a ton of talent last season and will return very few players from last year. The Wildcats’ 5 returning rotation players combined for 23 minutes and 7 TOTAL points in the NCAA tournament last season, while several of the new starting players and captains were either backups at other schools or starting players on smaller FCS squads that transferred to the Wildcats. For example, the presumptive starting center, Chase Jeter, was a backup power forward at Duke, point guard Justin Coleman started on Samford, and power forward Ryan Luther spent most of last season injured on the Pitt Panthers squad. There isn’t a ton of continuity from last season that would inspire confidence in this Arizona squad.

Still, it helps that some of the returning players look to have talent for the Wildcats. In addition, freshman guard Brandon Williams looks like he will be a stud for Arizona. It also helps that, Sean Miller is a helluva coach. He can flat-out coach, and he will have Arizona ready to play every game. Even though they aren’t heavy Pac-12 favorites like they were in the past, no team is going into McKale Memorial Coliseum and thinking that they will roll over Arizona.

It also greatly benefits Arizona that the Pac-12 is still widely open to almost any team. Oregon and UCLA sit atop of the conference, but they aren’t untouchable by any means. Any team in the Pac-12 can beat anyone, and that should excite and frighten the Wildcats. While Arizona will be able to hang with the likes of the Huskies and the Ducks, it is just as likely that the Beavs can take down the Wildcats (no offense to the Beavs).

Arizona will have their work cut out for them. The conference won’t be decided as handily as it’s been in the past in favor of Sean Miller and Co. As a result, U of A fans should temper expectations heading into the season. Still, this is a team that will be in and out of the top 25 for most of the year that I expect that to eventually be dancing in March, as well.

Player to Know: Brandon Williams (Guard)

Williams is a true freshman who is expected to start for the Wildcats from day 1. Williams is a combo guard that was rated as the 37th best ranked recruit by ESPN and 31st by 247Sports in last year’s recruiting class.

Williams is a playmaker through and through. In his senior season, Williams averaged 24.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game at Crespi Carmelite High School. The SoCal native still needs refinement on defense, but that should be expected as a true freshman. No prospect is perfect, but Williams will be coming into a system at Arizona that can utilize all of his skills. He will develop into a dangerous player for Arizona if given enough time. The Pac-12 needs to be on alert for this freshman.

Photo via @TheeBWill on Twitter

3 Key Non-Conference Games

11/19 - vs Iowa State

12/1 - at UConn

12/15 - vs Baylor