In part two of this week's roundtable, we discuss what we now expect from the Arizona Wildcats in Pac-12 play.
If you missed part one, it was about our biggest takeaways from the non-conference season.
What record do you foresee this team finishing Pac-12 play with?
Gabe Encinas: I would anticipate maybe five losses in the Pac-12 schedule. Arizona State is pretty decent this year, and they've been able to have success against Arizona, or at least under Herb Sendek. Any game vs. California, Utah, UCLA and Oregon could also result in a loss. I don't think Arizona loses to all of those teams, but those definitely drop three or four of those eight games. And then probably some stupid loss to Oregon State or Washington State.
Brandon Hill: I still feel like Arizona is the best team in the league. Oregon, Cal, and UCLA have been inconsistent. Utah is talented and plays a similar style of defensive-minded basketball (and beating Duke in an always pro-Duke Madison Square Garden was very impressive). Road games vs. UCLA, Cal, Utah, and Colorado will be tough, particularly the Utah and Colorado swing in February. I envision a 16-2 league season with a road loss in one of those aforementioned tilts and one other road flop, a la @ASU last year. The home streak lives on.
Ivan Leonard: Picking Arizona's conference record is so difficult because at this point they should be favored to win every game until the NCAA tournament, but that is highly unlikely. I believe they lose three conference games with one going to Cal in a shootout and one going to Oregon. The last loss is probably going to a team who misses the tournament like all three of Arizona's losses last year so I am going to guess Stanford.
Ryan Kelapire: I'm probably a bit overly optimistic here, but I think Arizona will finish with a 15-3 conference record. I don't envision them losing at home this season, but I do see them dropping three of the five games at Colorado, at Utah, at ASU, at UCLA, and at Cal. Maybe I'm wrong and they'll lose four or five of those, but I don't have much confidence in the strength of the Pac-12. And not having to play on the road against Oregon and Oregon State -- two of the better teams in the conference -- is a huge favor for the Wildcats. So, in short, my answer is 15-3 with all three losses coming on the road.
Alec Sills-Trausch: I'm still under the impression this is the best team in the Pac-12, even though the entire conference (minus Stanford) has probably exceeded expectations during the non-conference slate. With that said, it's completely unrealistic to believe that the Wildcats will win out. With long road trips, we're destined to lose a few. However, my first prediction is I believe our home winning streak stays intact through the 2016 season. I also do not believe this opening road swing at ASU, UCLA, and USC will not be as dangerous as most expect. If those first three games go well, the Cats have a legitimate shot at starting off at the minimum of 9-2 (with possible losses to only Oregon or California). As Miller gets the team rolling into March, we'll see the potential we hoped for in October come to fruition as we set foot in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament. Final conference record: 14-4
David Potts: Like Alec, I still think this is the best team in the Pac-12, but I don't think the margin is that great. Importantly, I think that the tough road games the Wildcats will face in the Pac-12 are toss-ups at best, and even if Arizona is 90% to win every home game, they'll still probably drop one (because math). I'm going to say they finish 13-5, which is still good enough to win a very balanced and competitive Pac-12, but not good enough to run away with the conference title.
Matt Sheeley: I think the conference is highly competitive but I do think Arizona is still the cream of the crop. They're not losing at home so I'll say 14-4 with a loss at Cal, at Utah and two upset losses to unexpected teams, which naturally ends with their student sections rushing the court.
James Schlittenhart: Arizona goes 13-5 in a surprisingly competitive Pac-12, which may still be enough to win the conference outright as the teams cannibalize themselves during the regular season. UCLA, Cal, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, and even ASU are all proving to be decent-to-good teams this year, so nothing is going to be handed to the Wildcats.
Jason Bartel: I still think this team goes, at worst, 14-4 in conference play. The only team I could see coming into McKale and winning a game is Oregon, and I don't think they will, though it'll be close. Like mentioned above, at least one loss will come on the back end of a road trip. Other than that though, the Pac-12 is strong in the middle, but not at the top, so Arizona should still win the conference by two games.