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Arizona basketball: Fifty predictions for the upcoming basketball season

How will Arizona fare? Who is the Pac-12 Player of the Year? There are no answers but I’ve sure got some guesses.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

We are less than 48 hours away from the Arizona Wildcats kicking off their 2016-17 season against the Michigan State Spartans in Honolulu, Hawaii, in the Armed Forces Classic.

There are plenty of questions about Arizona leading into this season. Will the lack of depth hold up? Will Allonzo Trier play? Can they contend for a Pac-12 Championship? Or even a Final Four?

For some strange reason, we that love writing about sports love to prognosticate. So I have decided to try to answer those questions and much, much more, and I will not admit that anything is wrong until, well, it is.

I give you 50 predictions, some bold, some not so much, for the upcoming college basketball season:

  1. Arizona will defeat Michigan State on Friday behind a stellar Wildcat debut from Lauri Markkanen.
  2. However, both the Wildcats and Spartans will enter conference play with the same number of losses: Two.
  3. Arizona will lose one game at McKale Center this season. It will be a conference game.
  4. Arizona will finish 13-5 in Pac-12 play, good for a tie for second place.
  5. I have no prediction regarding Allonzo Trier’s status. But if he plays a full season, he will win Pac-12 Player of the Year.
  6. If he doesn’t, the Pac-12 Player of the Year will be Cal’s Ivan Rabb.
  7. UCLA’s Bryce Alford will lead the Pac-12 in scoring.
  8. He’ll do it while eclipsing 40% shooting for the first time in his college career.
  9. According to, Arizona has finished in the top 30 in both adjusted offense and adjusted defense for three straight seasons. That streak will end.
  10. Last year, the USC Trojans finished 34th in adjusted offense. This year, they will finish in the top ten.
  11. Andy Enfield will win Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
  12. As for National Coach of the Year, that goes to Sean Miller’s old friend, head coach of the Xavier Musketeers, Chris Mack.
  13. The Washington State Cougars will NOT finish last in the Pac-12, led by Josh Hawkinson, who will average a double-double for the third straight year.
  14. Arizona will defeat the Arizona State Sun Devils in both of their meetings this season.
  15. Arizona State will finish last in the Pac-12.
  16. The Oregon Ducks will win the regular season Pac-12 Championship with a record of 16-2.
  17. That will be the only championship Oregon wins this season.
  18. Somewhere in Italy, Gabe York will try to dunk on someone.
  19. It won’t end the way he intended.
  20. Though Gabe’s three point shooting will be missed by this year’s Wildcats, Parker Jackson-Cartwright will make up for some of it by being a top-five three point shooter in the Pac-12.
  21. Washington’s Markelle Fultz will end up being the top pick in next year’s NBA Draft.
  22. He will not, however, win the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award. That achievement will go to UCLA’s Lonzo Ball.
  23. Despite Fultz’s success, the Washington Huskies will not make the NCAA Tournament.
  24. The Pac-12 will place six teams into the NCAA Tournament: Oregon, Arizona, the UCLA Bruins, USC, the California Golden Bears and...
  25. The winner of the Pac-12 Tournament, who will need to win the tournament to get in, the Colorado Buffaloes.
  26. The National Player of the Year award and the National Freshman of the Year award will go to the same person: Dennis Smith Jr. of North Carolina State.
  27. Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Alkins will make the Pac-12 All-Freshman team, joining Fultz, Ball and former Arizona commit, UCLA’s TJ Leaf.
  28. Speaking of commits, Arizona will land at least one more top ten recruit for the 2017-18 season during this season.
  29. Fans will feel that Kadeem Allen should win the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award.
  30. Oregon’s Chris Boucher will be chosen as the winner of the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award.
  31. The number one seeds for the NCAA Tournament will be: The Duke Blue Devils, Xavier, Oregon, and the Kansas Jayhawks.
  32. Kansas will lose in the first round of the tournament. Yes. That means what you think it means. A 16 over 1 special. You read it here. It’s got to happen some time, right?
  33. After an upset loss in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, Arizona will be given a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
  34. Arizona will be a popular pick to be upset in the first round, in the typical 5-12 game. Sean Miller will pack extra shirts, bracing for what could be a close game/second straight NCAA Tournament perspiration attack.
  35. The extra shirts won’t be needed. Arizona wins their first round game, in a blowout.
  36. In a measure of sweet revenge, Arizona will defeat the fourth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers in the round of 32.
  37. The Wildcats’ March Madness ride will come to an end in the Sweet Sixteen, at the hands of a one-seed.
  38. In the event that I am right and the Arizona Wildcats fail to win a national championship on the 20th anniversary of season of their 1997 title, I will get a Lute Olson tattoo. It’s a long story. But it’s very real.
  39. The West Coast Conference will get three bids in the NCAA Tournament: The Gonzaga Bulldogs, Saint Mary’s Gaels and...
  40. First year head coach, Damon Stoudamire, will lead the Pacific Tigers to the WCC Conference Tournament Championship and a spot in the tourney.
  41. The ACC will tie the record for number of teams from one conference in the NCAA Tournament with 11 bids.
  42. The Pac-12 will have its first Final Four team since 2008: Oregon.
  43. Another Final Four team will be led by a former Pac-12 player as Cal grad transfer, Jordan Mathews will help bring Gonzaga to their first Final Four in program history.
  44. Joining Oregon and Gonzaga in the Final Four will be Duke and the Indiana Hoosiers.
  45. Before the National Championship Game, located in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, there will be multiple “U of A” chants echoing through the stadium. The game will be played between Duke and Oregon.
  46. Duke will beat Oregon to capture their sixth national championship in program history.
  47. Three players from this year’s Arizona roster will head to the NBA early.
  48. Roy Williams will retire from the North Carolina Tar Heels shortly after the season ends.
  49. Rumors will run wild on Twitter than Sean Miller was spotted in Chapel Hill. Others will say they saw him in Tucson earlier that day.
  50. Coach Miller will be in neither location but he will tweet that he has no interest in that job whatsoever. He will do so while on Pittsburgh.