A year ago, the Arizona Wildcats were projected to be a top-five team in the country. Some pundits even had them at No. 1.
It’s safe to say expectations are much, much lower in 2018-19.
Andy Katz of NCAA.com released his first preseason Power 36 on Monday — his preseason rankings of the top 36 teams in college basketball — and Arizona was nowhere to be found.
While Arizona does have an intriguing roster with several former highly-rated recruits and and a pair of graduate transfers, no one on the team has proven they can play at a high level in a major conference.
Until they do, Arizona won’t earn much respect from voters.
The same goes for the entire Pac-12, which is coming off one of its worst seasons in recent memory, placing just three teams in the NCAA Tournament, none of which got past the first round.
Only three Pac-12 teams landed in Katz’s Power 36.
The Washington Huskies lead the way at No. 29:
The Huskies could and should be the pick to win the Pac-12. Noah Dickerson’s return with Matisse Thybulle gives the Huskies a terrific tandem. Washington now knows how to play Mike Hopkins’ zone. There should be no surprise with the Huskies’ ability to beat quality teams next season.
The UCLA Bruins check in at No. 31:
The Bruins did lose glue guy Thomas Welsh and scorer Aaron Holiday. But Kris Wilkes has the potential to be an Pac-12 player of the year candidate. He should have the ball in his hands quite a bit and be a catalyst for an offense that should flow well.
The Oregon Ducks are listed at No. 33:
The Ducks made a late run for a possible tournament bid last season. Oregon shouldn’t have to sweat it out next season with Bol Bol adding to an experienced starting lineup led by Payton Pritchard. This team should start to mimic the Final Four squad of two seasons ago with length, athleticism and plenty of options.
Arizona might have to play Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational, as well Duke (6), Auburn (11), and/or San Diego State (36), who were also listed in Katz’s Power 36.
Baylor, UConn, and Alabama — UA’s three other top non-conference opponents — were not included by Katz.