The Arizona Wildcats dominated the Pac-12 in the 2014-15 season, but fell short once again to the Wisconsin Badgers in the Elite Eight. Despite the disappointing exit in the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats come into the 2015-16 season as the favorites to win the Pac-12 and a dark horse favorite to win the National Championship.
Why would a team as talented as the Wildcats be a “dark horse” to win it all instead of an out and out favorite? Arizona loses their four leading scorers from the previous season. Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley declared early for the NBA Draft, and point guard T.J. McConnell was a senior.
However, whereas most teams would come back significantly weaker after losing players of that quality, Arizona brings back a team that might actually be improved.
The Wildcats’ 2015-16 roster is basically a list of former high-level four-star recruits who are willing to do what it takes to win. These are not players with eyes locked onto their future as NBA players like the players from several other big-name college basketball programs. These are players who are willing to play a role in order to create the most all-around talented team possible. Any player on this roster could make the jump from bench threat to elite scorer in just a few weeks.
This team’s depth is arguably the best in the country, and with veteran leaders like Kaleb Tarczewski and Gabe York combining with budding stars like Allonzo Trier and Ray Smith, the Wildcats are built for a deep run into the 2016 NCAA tournament.
Expect big things from this Arizona squad throughout the season and even bigger things once March rolls around.