Replacing leading scorer Bennedict Mathurin will be no easy task and top rebounder Christian Koloko is also gone. Don’t feel too sorry for the Arizona Wildcats.
Azuolas Tubelis, Kerr Kriisa, and Pelle Larsson were key contributors in 2021-22 and their roles figure to one get bigger this season.
The Wildcats not only signed a top-10 recruiting class but added guards Courtney Ramey, Cedric Henderson Jr., and Matthew Lang from Texas, Campbell and Gonzaga while forward Luke Champion comes in from Missouri Western State. Ramey and Henderson are the two incoming transfers expected to play significant roles.
When looking at the college basketball playoff odds, Arizona (+2200) is tied for ninth in the odds to win the national title.
Arizona came in at No. 13 in the preseason Coaches’ poll and is 17th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. UCLA is the only Pac-12 team ahead of the Wildcats in the polls.
Arizona was picked to finish second in the preseason Pac-12 poll.
- 2021-22 record: 33-4
- 2021-22 Pac-12 Record: 18-2
- Coach: Tommy Lloyd
- Odds to win national title: +2200
Tubelis showed what he is capable of when he had 20 points and 11 rebounds in the Pac-12 semifinals against Colorado. That success didn’t carry over to the NCAA Tournament as he was 2 for 15 from the field in the final two games after a strong opening performance against Wright State.
Tubelis’ offense can’t come and go this season as it did at times a year ago.
Expectations are high after he was named a first-team preseason pick in the Pac-12.
— Arizona Basketball (@ArizonaMBB) October 24, 2022
Kriisa averaged 9.7 points last season and that number figures to increase. He will continue to be a solid floor leader after registering more than twice as many assists as turnovers during the 2021-22 season. Larsson averaged 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in the three games in the NCAA Tournament. Arizona was 8-1 when Larsson scored at least 10 points a season ago and he will need to do that more than nine times this time around.
Arizona was favored according to the sportsbook in each of its last 25 games during the 2021-22 season. That could change when the Wildcats meet up with UCLA.
Keep an eye on 7-footer Oumar Bello, who did have stretches of productive play as a sophomore and will be asked to go more during his junior campaign.
Kim Aiken Jr. transferred to New Mexico State, meaning five of the nine players who averaged more than 10 minutes a season ago are gone.
Henderson was a double-digit scorer during each of his three seasons at Campbell while Ramey averaged 10 points per game over his four seasons at Texas and is a proven 3-point shooter.
Arizona added size to its recruiting class with the additions of 6-foot-11 Dylan Anderson and Henri Veesaar and 6-foot-8 Filip Borovicanin. Guard Kylan Boswell is the highest-rated of the incoming freshmen.
There is no need to apologize for a 33-4 season that included a win over UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game. That was one of five wins over ranked teams. However, the Wildcats’ failure to reach the Final Four was a disappointing end to a tremendous season.
Mathurin is one of the early candidates for the NBA Rookie of the Year and his ability to score down the stretch will not be easy to replace. The offense will look much different without Mathurin in uniform.
There’s more than enough talent for Arizona to make a run at another Pac-12 tournament title.
Freshman Veesaar had a strong showing in an intrasquad scrimmage so keep an eye on him this season.
Arizona covered against the college basketball betting lines in just five of its last 13 games.
The Wildcats could be tested in all three games at the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and there will also be a non-conference matchup with Indiana as well as one with Tennessee. Arizona opens Pac-12 play against Utah and California, who were picked to finish 10th and 11th in the preseason Pac-12 poll so there will be time to get the newcomers to adapt to conference play.
2022-23 Arizona Schedule
- Season opener: vs Nicholls, Nov. 7th, 9:30 p.m. ET
- Pac-12 opener: at Utah, Dec. 1st, 8:30 p.m. ET
Other Games to Watch
- vs Cincinnati (at Lahaina, Hawaii), Nov. 21, 9:30 p.m. ET
- vs Ohio State/San Diego State (at Lahaina, Hawaii), Nov. 22, time TBA
- vs Indiana, Dec. 10 (at Las Vegas, Nev.), 5:30 p.m. ET
- vs Tennessee, Dec. 17, 10:30 p.m. ET
- at Arizona State, Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET
- at Oregon, Jan. 14, 6 p.m. ET
- vs Southern California, Jan. 19, 9 p.m. ET
- vs UCLA, Jan. 21, 2 p.m. ET
- vs Oregon, Feb. 2, 10:30 p.m. ET
- at Stanford, Feb. 11, time TBA
- vs Arizona State, Feb. 25, 2 p.m. ET
- at USC, March 2, time TBA
- at UCLA, March 4, 10 p.m. ET