College Basketball Preview: Pac 12's Arizona Loaded for Final Four Run
Team to Beat: Arizona Wildcats
Arizona lost NBA first rounder Lauri Markkanen, but the Wildcats have a roster big on talent and potential this season, headlined by McDonald's All-American DeAndre Ayton. The 7'1" freshman was ranked third among incoming freshman on ESPN100's prospect list, and appears to be a surefire NBA lottery selection in 2018. Emmanuel Akot, who gained eligibility to join Arizona a year earlier than expected, joins Ayton for what should be a dynamic freshman class.
There's also plenty of firepower returning to Sean Miller's team from last year, most notably established collegiate star Allonzo Trier. The junior missed time last year to a performance-enhancing drug suspension, but rejoined the Wildcats during Pac 12 conference play, and averaged 17.2 points per game on 46 percent shooting. His decision not to leave for the NBA was a pleasant surprise for Wildcats fans, who will also see the return of Dusan Ristic and Rawle Alkins (10.9 points per game each last season). Alkins will miss time with a broken bone in his foot, but hopes to be back in time for regular season conference play.
Ken Pomeroy's rankings project Arizona as the third-best team in the country this year in terms of expected overall adjusted efficiency and place the Wildcats inside the top-10 in both projected offensive and defensive efficiency. There are clearly some big question marks hanging over the program this season, but their ceiling may be as high as any team's in college basketball.