Arizona, the defending Pac-12 champions, will begin the 2022-23 season ranked No. 17.

The Wildcats checked in as the second-highest-ranked team from the Pac-12 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll, released Monday morning. UCLA was No. 8 in the poll, while Oregon rounded out the Pac-12 contingent at No. 21.

North Carolina earned 47 of a possible 62 first-place votes to land at No. 1 in the preseason poll for the 10th time in program history. Gonzaga was No. 2, with the team that ended Arizona’s season in the Sweet 16 (Houston) at No. 3.

Kentucky, Baylor, Kansas, Duke, Creighton, and Arkansas rounded out the rest of the preseason Top 10.

Arizona closed out the 2021-22 season ranked No. 2 in the final AP poll, but the Wildcats have quite a bit to replace this season. Bennedict Mathurin, Dalen Terry, and Christian Koloko are off to the NBA, and reserve guard Justin Kier (6.8 points a game) exhausted his eligibility.

Coach Tommy Lloyd did well to replenish via the transfer portal, though. Guards Courtney Ramey and Cedric Henderson Jr. join the program to supplement a top-30 recruiting class that features potential immediate-impact players. Arizona also returns forward Azuolas Tubelis and guard Kerr Kriisa to be team leaders in 2022. Lloyd is expecting big jumps from Pelle Larsson — the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in the Pac-12 — and Oumar Ballo.

“I love the pieces we have and I think we are going to be a hard out, there’s no doubt about that,” Lloyd said earlier this month.

Arizona begins its season on Nov. 7 against Nicholls at 6:30 p.m. PT.

The full preseason AP poll can be seen below (with first-place votes in parenthesis):

  1. North Carolina (47)
  2. Gonzaga (12)
  3. Houston (1)
  4. Kentucky (2)
  5. Baylor
  6. Kansas
  7. Duke
  8. UCLA
  9. Creighton
  10. Arkansas
  11. Tennessee
  12. Texas
  13. Indiana
  14. TCU
  15. Auburn
  16. Villanova
  17. Arizona
  18. Virginia
  19. San Diego State
  20. Alabama
  21. Oregon
  22. Michigan
  23. Illinois
  24. Dayton
  25. Texas Tech

Receiving votes: Texas A&M 112, UConn 101, Miami (FL) 66, Purdue 56, Saint Louis 36, Michigan State 35, Florida State 32, Xavier 29, Wyoming 25, Ohio State 23, Iowa 13, Rutgers 4, Florida 3, USC 3, Virginia Tech 1, Memphis 1, Toledo 1, Notre Dame 1, UAB 1