When Tommy Lloyd was hired to coach Arizona last April, almost all of the schedule for his first season on the job was already locked in. Other than swapping Gonzaga for Tennessee, the nonconference slate the Wildcats played in 2021-22 was what Sean Miller and his staff had put together.
The non-league schedule for the upcoming season will have much more of a Lloyd feel to it, though it will probably still be a while before its finalized and made public.
“We’re working on a lot of things right now, nothing specific,” Lloyd said last week. “Tennessee’s coming here next year, we’re in Maui. We’re trying to figure out the rest of the schedule. I’m sure those things will start coming out here shortly.”
Arizona will play 11 nonconference games in addition to 20 Pac-12 contests, and six are already locked in. That includes the three to-be-determined opponents in the Maui Invitational, where the Wildcats will compete against the likes of Arkansas, Cincinnati, Creighton, Louisville, Ohio State, San Diego State and Texas Tech.
The UA will have at least one high-profile game at McKale Center, that being the return visit from Tennessee after the Vols played host last December. Arizona also has first-week home games scheduled against NAU and Southern, though Lloyd joked that the former could get postponed indefinitely like the Gonzaga game he inherited due to a personal connection to that program.
Lloyd’s son, Liam, has transferring to NAU after spending two seasons at Grand Canyon.
“The defensive game plan might be to push that game back,” Lloyd said. “We’ll see on that one.”
As for the other five? Expect most, if not all, to be at McKale, with the majority being of similar caliber to the opponents Arizona faced at home last season. Lloyd has in the past said how much he likes playing big-time games, including ones at neutral sites, but that may not end up happening.
“Those are all conversations we’re having, we’ll see where it goes from there,” he said. “Scheduling is something that everybody’s always gonna complain about. It’s not an easy thing to do. And I just know this: this year, with the schedule we had we inherited some of it, we did some of it on our own. We ended up being a 1 seed. So maybe the formula wasn’t so bad.”