Here is our Sports desk's predictions on how the Arizona men's basketball team will play this season.
Heading into the second season of the Tommy Lloyd era of Arizona basketball looks different than last season. Last season they had a go-to scorer in Bennedict Mathurin and high-level players that had played in his system before. This season, Lloyd doesn't have one main scorer on offense and will look to count on returning players like Kerr Kriisa and Pelle Larsson to take a big jump. Even though this team lost three players to the NBA, I still believe they will challenge UCLA for the Pac-12 Championship and be a threat to make it back to a second-straight Sweet 16 come March.
As the new basketball season begins for the Wildcats under Lloyd, who is back with the team for his second year, Arizona will look to build on its success from last year and push even further this season. The Wildcats come into the new season ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12. They finished the last season with 33 wins and made it to the Sweet 16 but lost to the University of Houston. The team lost three starters to the NBA Draft, but for the most part, the team remains the same for this year with some new additions.
I believe this team has a chance to be as good, if not better, as the team last year. Another year with a lot of the same players, along with Lloyd, should only further grow the chemistry with the players, along with the coaching staff as well. I see this team finishing with 30 wins, will finish in the top-five in the Pac-12 and will remain a top-10 team all season long. Arizona will also have another chance to play for the Pac-12 Championship but will fall short this season. However, this year Arizona will make a much deeper run in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will make it to the Final Four this season, but their run will end there. I believe behind the leadership of Lloyd, who was by far one of the best coaches in the country last year, and the talent that stayed on this team from last season, Arizona will be able to have yet another special season.
Mary Grace Armistead
I predict that Arizona men's basketball will have a dominant season even with losing significant players from last year. I think the two losses will come from UCLA away and the University of Tennessee at home. I have a feeling that Tennessee's sports program after the football game against the University of Alabama will take off in confidence. I think the two stars of the season will be Larsson and Oumar Ballo. I think they will pull an upset with UCLA at home and the University of Indiana away. I think this year in the NCAA Tournament they will get to the Sweet 16.
The Arizona men's basketball team will look to replicate the success they saw a season ago and repeat as Pac-12 Champions in the second season under Lloyd. They enter the year with a revamped roster after losing three of their top-five scorers a season ago to the NBA draft. Arizona will have to rely on the depth on their roster and could see meaningful minutes for freshmen Filip Borovicanin, Henri Veesaar, Dylan Anderson and Kylan Boswell. The starting five will rely on returnees Azuolas Tubelis and Pelle Larsson while looking for consistent production from Kriisa, Courtney Ramey and Adama Bal as well. Arizona should once again finish near the top of the Pac-12 in the regular season and be well-positioned for another tournament berth.
My biggest concern with this year's team is, who's the alpha? This off-season, Lloyd lost three starters to the NBA, one being Mathurin who led the team in scoring last season. Finding replacements for this group's production will be difficult, and I anticipate Arizona to finish in No. 3 in the Pac-12 regular season, behind UCLA and USC.
The Wildcats begin their season ranked No. 17 in the nation, poised to repeat last year's success. The Wildcats finished the 2021-22 season with a record of 33-4 (18-2 Pac-12) and entered the 2022 Tournament as a No. 1 seed but were bounced by No. 5 seed Houston in the Sweet 16. The 2022 offseason saw the Wildcats lose three of their star players, Mathurin, Koloko and Terry to the NBA draft. The Wildcats are going to be led by returning players Kriisa, Larsson and Ballo, along with Texas transfer Ramey. The Wildcats' out of conference schedule includes some fun matchups, such as SEC favorite University of Tennessee and Big Ten favorite Indiana University Bloomington. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Wildcats finishing topping their 33 wins from last season, but I think they can still finish with a respectable record, contend for the Pac-12 title and reach the tournament as a top-four or five seed.
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