So Sean Miller's Wildcats are ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press poll and their eight-game winning streak dates back to a month ago.
That means the head coach's candidacy for NCAA Coach of the Year must come into consideration.
When the Wildcats likely jump into the Top 10 when Monday's rankings come out, very few teams above them will be more of a surprise -- and thus likely to draw more praise -- than Arizona. Look at it like this: Kansas, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and teams of the like are where most projections thought they'd be.
San Diego State and BYU, who are set to square off next Saturday, are for the most part the only two teams that exceeded expectations to the extreme. Aside from those two Mountain West teams, it leaves Arizona, boding any fizzling-out down the stretch of the Pac-10 season, as the most surprising team of the year.
Why is that the case?
Because Miller has yet to reap the benefits of a heralded recruiting class, yet his Wildcats have grown from Day 1 of the Miller Era. Gone is last season's ups and downs, and a maturity is developing before our eyes. The reality is that Miller has connected with his players, molding them into a unit where any one player can step up on any given night. That's why Arizona has won (save for a few lucky breaks of course).
Obviously, having Derrick Williams doesn't hurt either. You'd think that the luck of having one of the nations best players hurts a coaches chances at winning the award, but look at this list of past winners (thanks Wikipedia).
2000 — Larry Eustachy, Iowa State
2001 — Matt Doherty, North Carolina
2002 — Ben Howland, Pittsburgh
2003 — Tubby Smith, Kentucky
2004 — Phil Martelli, St. Joseph’s
2005 — Tubby Smith, Kentucky
2006 — Roy Williams, North Carolina
2007 — Tony Bennett, Washington State
2008 — Keno Davis, Drake
2009 — Bill Self, Kansas
2010 — Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
An interesting mix of big schools, small schools, schools with Player of the Year candidates, and others without them. The 2007 Washington State Cougar team's star player was Kyle Weaver, a borderline NBA talent and without checking it out for certain, Drake probably didn't have any big-name player when Keno Davis won the award in 2008.
Meanwhile, St. Joseph's had the National Player of the Year in Jameer Nelson and Delonte West.
My point is, Miller has the resume to win the award. However, it wouldn't shock me if it it went elsewhere, say, to San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher. It'll be interesting to see which direction voters decide to go.
Do you think Sean Miller should be the NCAA Coach of the Year?