College basketball season is a mere three months away, which means ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi is back to work projecting next year’s NCAA Tournament.
Lunardi slates Arizona as the No. 5 seed in the West region, a modest prediction after the Wildcats lost three NBA draft picks from a season ago. Arizona would play Drake in the opening round, then presumably face No. 4 seed TCU in a Round of 32 rematch (yes, please).
If the Wildcats were to get past TCU, they would likely play No. 1 seed Gonzaga in a Tommy Lloyd - Mark Few reunion. The 2023 West regional is being held at McKale North, otherwise known as T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The bottom half the West region includes Sean Miller’s Xavier Musketeers as the No. 7 seed and rival UCLA as the No. 2 seed.
An Arizona versus Xavier or UCLA Elite 8 matchup might spell the end of civility in Las Vegas, if it ever existed.
Lunardi’s projection of Arizona as a No. 5 seed is about on with preseason rankings. ESPN ranks Arizona at No. 16, CBSSports puts the Wildcats at No. 15, while Jon Rothstein has them at No. 22.
This time a year ago, Arizona wasn’t even on most pundits’ preseason rankings. The Wildcats ended up going 28-3 in the regular season, earning a No. 1 seed.