Men's basketball schedule coming into focus
Arizona men's basketball head coach Sean Miller calls a player to the court during the Arizona-Oregon game on March 11. The Wildcats defeated Oregon 83-80 in the Pac-12 Tournament championship game.
With a little over five months until the beginning of the 2017-2018 season, head coach Sean Miller and company are nearing the completion of their non-conference schedule.
That picture is starting to come into better focus as Arizona and the University of Alabama are close to completing an agreement on a home-and-home series that would start this season.
According to Tuscaloosa News’ Cecil Hurt, the agreement would have the Wildcats hosting the Crimson Tide in the McKale Center this year, and then Arizona would travel to Tuscaloosa in 2018.
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Although no dates have been finalized yet, it is believed that the first game between the two schools will be held on Saturday, December 9th in Tucson, currently an open date on both teams’ schedules.
It’s safe to say that the connection with former Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, now working for Alabama, and his relationship with Miller played an instrumental role in bringing the two schools together.
Arizona fans can also let out a big sigh of relief as no home-and-home series has been brought up concerning the football programs.
If the two schools are able to finalize the deal, it would not only improve Arizona’s non-conference strength of schedule, but it would also negate the possibility of Miller having to settle for another neutral site game, an occurrence that has become all too common for many teams during the first part of their season.
Last season, Arizona ranked 123rd in terms of non-conference strength of schedule according to KenPom.com, and included games against Sacred Heart and Northern Colorado, schools with an RPI of 300th and 308th, respectively.
For comparison, the Crimson Tide finished the 2016-17 season with an RPI of 82 and posted a regular season record of 19-15 (10-8). Alabama will also be bringing in the nation’s 7th ranked recruiting class next season, according to 247Sports.com.
If the two basketball programs are indeed able to reach an agreement for this year, it means Arizona’s non-conference schedule would be filled. Some of the dates for these games have yet to be finalized, including the highly anticipated Red-Blue Game.
Here’s a closer look at some of the early matchups on Arizona’s schedule:
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