Pull up Andy Katz’s preseason Power 36 basketball rankings for the 2022-23 season and just keep scrolling. The eyebrow will probably go up right around No. 23 when you realize you’ve seen two Pac-12 teams and you haven’t yet seen the defending Pac-12 champions.

On the heels of a 33-4 season, an outright regular-season Pac-12 title, a Pac-12 Tournament championship, and a No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Arizona is slotted just outside Katz’s preseason top 30 — at No. 31. The Wildcats are well behind UCLA, who they beat in the Pac-12 championship game to claim the tournament crown and who Katz has ranked fourth in the country. They’re also behind USC, which sits at No. 23.

Here’s what Katz wrote on the UA:

The Wildcats won’t be as talented as last season but Tommy Lloyd has the goods to keep the Wildcats in the mix. 


Arizona certainly has quite a bit to replace from last year’s breakthrough team. Bennedict Mathurin was the go-to scorer and he was picked sixth overall in the most recent NBA Draft. Dalen Terry, the ultimate glue guy for an uber-efficient offense, was taken just outside the draft lottery at No. 18. Then big man Christian Koloko was picked with the third selection of the second round to give the Cats three draftees in the top 33 picks.

Mathurin was the Pac-12 Player of the Year. Koloko was the Defensive POY and the Most Improved. Terry was a secondary ball-handler, an excellent cutter, and a fierce defender. They all did things you don’t easily replace in one offseason; that’s why they were high draft picks.

But coach Tommy Lloyd has done well to retool.

Arizona returns the reigning Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year in Pelle Larsson. It brings back Kerr Kriisa to handle point guard duties and added former Texas guard Courtney Ramey to play alongside him. Cedric Henderson Jr., a transfer from Campbell, could be the Terry replacement. Oumar Ballo and Adama Bal are expected to take big jumps and be primary contributors.

Maybe Arizona doesn’t have a Mathurin-level scorer (maybe it does…) but the Wildcats have one of the game’s best coaches and plenty of talent.

Last year’s team was doubted at the outset, though, too.

Katz’s full 36-team ranking can be found here.