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Basketball Guide 2014: Staff Picks

Our basketball writers predict how the No. 2 Arizona men's basketball team will fare in Sean Miller's sixthyear at the helm

Matt Wall

Although UA head coach Sean Miller is trying to play down his team’s hype, Arizona basketball will make it all the way to the Final Four because this team is deeper than ever. Many experts predict the Wildcats will go all the way simply because of their experience. This team is so stacked that its bench could probably defeat an NCAA Division I team by itself. Arizona will finally get to the Final Four, something Miller has hoped for since he became head coach. The final question will be, who are the better Wildcats — Kentucky or Arizona? Only time will tell.

Record: 37-3
Postseason: Final Four
MVP: Brandon Ashley
Underrated: Parker Jackson-Cartwright
Overrated: Stanley Johnson

Roberto Payne

Despite losing Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon to the NBA, this Arizona Wildcats team has the potential to go further than last year’s due to its newfound depth. After going seven or eight deep last season, Sean Miller has the flexibility to switch up lineups and go 10 deep while still being effective. Freshmen will provide the depth to a cast of returnees headlined by T.J. McConnell, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York and Kaleb Tarczewski. This is by far the best chance for a second National Championship that the Arizona men’s basketball program has had in the past decade. It may not get there, but it’s sure as hell talented enough to get close.

Record: 36-4
Postseason: Final Four
MVP: T.J. McConnell
Underrated: Gabe York
Overrated: Kaleb Tarczewski

James Kelley

After losing in the Elite Eight by a bucket and then in overtime, this season, Sean Miller finally breaks his glass ceiling and makes the Final Four. Replacing NBA draft picks Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon will be tough, but the Wildcats are so stacked that they hardly even seem to need a top-recruiting class. MaxPreps National Player of the Year Stanley Johnson isn’t even a sure starter yet, and 2014 Junior College Player of the Year Kadeem Allen will redshirt. Teams as good as Arizona aren’t supposed to have fifth-year point guards like T.J. McConnell or players such as Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski still around as juniors.

Record: 37-3
Postseason: National runner-up
MVP: T.J. McConnell
Underrated: Dusan Ristic
Overrated: Parker Jackson-Cartwright

Brian Peel

On paper, this looks like Arizona’s best team under Sean Miller. Isn’t that said almost every year? That is a credit to Miller, who always seems to replace NBA draft picks with more superstar freshmen. That should be the case again this season, most notably with the addition of Stanley Johnson trying to fill the shoes of the departed Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson. T.J. McConnell should have an excellent senior season as the undisputed leader of the team, and the return of Brandon Ashley is certainly welcome. The Wildcats should have one of the best defenses in the country again, but a lack of a great offensive player will hurt them just as it did last year — and Miller will be denied a Final Four once more.

Record: 34-4
MVP: T.J. McConnell
Postseason: Elite Eight
Underrated: Dusan Ristic
Overrated: Kaleb Tarczewski

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