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Arizona Wildcats are favorite to win Pac-12, per ESPN

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arizona-wildcats-basketball-top-25-pac-12-favorite-espn-projections-recruiting-oregon-usc-washington Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Normally, the Arizona Wildcats are the Pac-12 team hit the hardest by the NBA Draft. This year that title belongs to the Oregon Ducks.

Oregon lost underclassmen Kenny Wooten and Louis King to the pros, causing them to fall out of ESPN’s updated way-too-early Top 25 for the 2019-20 college basketball season. It didn’t help that the Ducks also lost Miles Norris and Victor Bailey Jr. to transfer, though they did recently add New Mexico’s Anthony Mathis.

All those departures pave the way for the Wildcats to reclaim their status atop the conference. ESPN’s Jeff Borzello pegs Arizona, which added UC Irvine grad transfer Max Hazzard since his last update, as the No. 15 team in the country in his latest Top 25.

Here is his rationale:

After an uncharacteristic year in which the Wildcats missed the NCAA tournament, there should be no issue getting back to the dance for Sean Miller’s club next season. Much of the reason for optimism centers on a top-five recruiting class led by top-10 guards Josh Green and Nico Mannion, who played together on the AAU circuit and will both start immediately next season in Tucson. UC Irvine grad transfer Max Hazzard brings shooting, and Brandon Williams returns as a starter in the backcourt. Chase Jeter and top-50 recruit Zeke Nnaji will anchor the interior. This is your Pac-12 favorite.

Washington and USC are the other Pac-12 teams in Borzello’s Top 25. They check in at No. 21 and No. 25, respectively.

Gonzaga (8) and Baylor (17), who will be playing Arizona during the non-conference season, unsurprisingly made the cut too.