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Arizona places 7th in Sports Illustrated’s Pac-12 Power Rankings

Alabama v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The 2018-19 season will be a prove-it year for the Arizona Wildcats, as preseason rankings have set the bar low for the reigning Pac-12 champions.

NCAA.com did not include Arizona in its Top 36 and ESPN’s Basketball Power Index did not even have Arizona in its Top 100.

Now Max Meyer of Sports Illustrated is chiming in, placing the Wildcats seventh in his Pac-12 Power Rankings.

Here is Meyer’s reasoning:

Sky-high expectations came crashing down in a season mired by scandal and disappointment. The Wildcats lost their entire starting five. Brandon Williams and Devonaire Doutrive will have to carry a heavy load as freshmen, because the cupboard has never been as bare for Sean Miller in Tucson.

It is easy to understand why expectations for Arizona are low. It lost its entire starting five, its freshman class was not as highly-ranked as usual, and its leading returning scorer is Dylan Smith, who averaged 4.3 points per game last season.

At the same time, it feels like the Wildcats’ talent might be being overlooked a little bit. While there is very little proven production on the roster, there is still a lot of potential. Guys like Brandon Randolph, Emmanuel Akot, Chase Jeter, and Ira Lee were all highly-touted recruits that still have time to develop into solid college players.

And while Arizona’s freshman class didn’t include any five-star recruits, Brandon Williams is a tantalizing prospect that should elevate UA’s point guard play from where it was last season.

Then Arizona rounded out its roster with two graduate transfers in Justin Coleman and Ryan Luther who will add a veteran presence to an otherwise young team.

Will the Wildcats repeat as Pac-12 champions? It seems unlikely, but it’s at least plausible to think they have a chance of finishing within the top third of the conference, especially since the Pac-12 has, well, not been good recently.

Arizona doesn’t mind flying under the radar for once, though.

“To be honest with you, it’s cool,” Randolph said this summer. ”It’s actually making me kind of hyped because I can’t wait till we surprise people. I love doing that.”

Here are Meyer’s entire rankings:

  1. Oregon
  2. UCLA
  3. Washington
  4. USC
  5. Colorado
  6. Arizona State
  7. Arizona
  8. Stanford
  9. Utah
  10. Oregon State
  11. Cal
  12. Washington State