Arizona released their non-conference schedule yesterday and there’s plenty to be excited about as Arizona has not lost a non-conference game since they hosted Gonzaga in December of 2011. Sean Miller has been known to schedule tough opponents, but this might be the toughest schedule he has compiled since taking over at Arizona. 11 of the 16 possible opponents made it to postseason play last year, 7 of which finished with an RPI inside 60. To put things into even more perspective, the 16 teams combined for a .629 overall winning percentage and .639 conference record winning percentage.
Arizona opens up with a pretty light schedule; Cal Poly Pomona, Mount St. Mary’s, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine. But then the Cats head to Hawaii during Thanksgiving for the Maui Invitational which includes Purdue, Kansas State, Pittsburgh, BYU, Missouri, San Diego State University and Chaminade, 4 of which made the NCAA Tournament this past year.
After coming back from Maui, the Cats host Gardner-Webb and head into the biggest home stretch of their non-conference schedule. Arizona took care of Gonzaga easily in the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16, but the Bulldogs will be looking for redemption in Tucson on December 6th. Utah Valley gives Arizona a nice break in the schedule before Michigan comes to Tucson to finish the scheduled home-and-home series on December 13th. Last year Arizona took a business trip to Ann Arbor, where the two traded blows all game long with the Cats coming out on top in the final seconds. However it’s important to note that Michigan might not be the same Elite 8 team they were this past year, as they have lost a lot of key players via transfer and NBA Draft.
On December 16th, the Wildcats will host Oakland before taking a quick road trip to UTEP and UNLV to close out their non-conference schedule. Both UTEP and UNLV are sneaky good teams and we saw this first hand last year with UNLV as they almost ruined the annual whiteout game and gave the Cats a scare before finally being ranked #1.
Expectations are high for this team are high once again, but with experienced leaders that are returning and yet another top 5 recruiting class for Sean Miller, this team has some unfinished business to take care of.
Tags: Arizona Basketball