With the NCAA announcing Friday that voluntary activities for Division I athletes can begin on June 1, the calendar has officially flipped forward to the 2020-21 season.
That makes this an ideal time to review where the Arizona Wildcats stand in preseason polls for next season. If you’re someone who fastidiously follows top 25 rankings, you may not like the verdict.
A scouring of seven preseason polls (Yahoo Sports, ESPN, USA Today, CBS Sports, Stadium, NBC Sports and College Hoops Today) finds that Arizona is not ranked in a single one.
A handful of rankings include a ‘first five out’, and Arizona appears in none of those, suggesting that the Wildcats aren’t even a top-30 team in the eyes of college basketball writers.
Stadium’s Jeff Goodman and College Hoops Today’s Jon Rothstein take their preseason rankings a step further, expanding to 50 and 45 teams, respectively.
Arizona’s ranking averages out to No. 36 overall across preseason polls.
With a top-10 recruiting class and the addition of transfers Jordan Brown, James Akinjo and Terrell Brown, it’s perhaps surprising that no one in the college basketball national media establishment expects a better showing from Arizona next season.
On the other hand, the Wildcats lose the bulk of their scoring production from a team that consistently underachieved.
Arizona’s position in preseason rankings is still subject to change, especially if Brandon Williams leaves the program as has been speculated.
Living away from the spotlight of national rankings may not be such a bad thing for a young group, though. Plus, the Wildcats will get plenty of chances to prove themselves in non-conference and conference play.
Arizona has a December road matchup with Gonzaga, who has a consensus top-10 team and could face Texas Tech as part of the NIT Season Tip Off. The Red Raiders are ranked No. 9 in Goodman’s poll.
As many as four Pac-12 teams — ASU, UCLA, Oregon and Stanford — are ranked across the preseason polls, while Colorado and USC are considered darkhorses as well.
If Arizona is in fact worthy of a national ranking, we’ll know it soon enough.