The 2017-18 non-conference schedule for the Arizona Wildcat Basketball team has been officially released. Time to preview what’s ahead for the Cats next season.
It’s never too early to start looking ahead for what’s in store for the Wildcats next season. The Cats will look to improve their non-conference season ranking from last season and stay on top of the RPI rankings.
Last season’s non-conference included matchups against Michigan State, Butler, and Gonzaga. One of the many highlights from last season was Kadeem Allen’s coast to coast game-winner against Michigan State with 1.3 seconds to go in the Armed Forces Classic:
Before the start of the actual season, the Wildcats will have the opportunity to travel to Spain to participate in an exhibition tournament from August 10-19th. Teams still to be TBD.
To kick off this season, the Wildcats will have their McDonald’s Red-Blue Game on October 20th. Fans will get to enjoy watching all the players play five on five and participate in a fan favorite slam dunk contest!
Then the exhibition games will take place against Eastern New Mexico and Chico State before the official start of non-conference play.
This non-conference season doesn’t have those same powerhouse opponents like last season but does include Alabama, UCONN, and Cal State Bakersfield. Also, there will be a neutral site preseason tournament, the Battle 4 Atlantis, which will include high profile schools with high RPIs from last season such as Villanova, Purdue and NC State.
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The matchup against Alabama on Dec 9th at McKale Center should be quite interesting. The recent addition of Greg Bryne as the Crimson Tide’s current AD (former AD for the Wildcats), resulted in the opportunity for the two schools to negotiate a deal to set up a multi-year deal which finalized this past Thursday.
Wildcat fans will have mixed feelings about the Crimson Tide playing at McKale Center because of ties to former Wildcat AD Bryne, who was behind the scenes making this matchup happen. In the big picture of things, this matchup will improve branding for both schools and other opportunities down the road maybe a Wildcat vs. Crimson Tide football matchup?!
According to Kenpom.com, the Wildcats finished last season with a non-conference schedule ranking of 108. They finished the season with an RPI of 5. The overall strength of their non-conference opponents will be better than last season giving the Cats the opportunity to improve their non-conference ranking.
Cal State Bakersfield will have the highest prior season RPI of 59 heading into Mckale Center this season. Last season, the Wildcats beat the Roadrunners 78-66 even though they had a slow start, with Lauri Markkanen leading the team with 26 points and eight rebounds.
The 2017-18 Wildcat basketball season will have a lot of exciting moments during non-conference, conference and postseason play! Zona Zealots will keep you posted along the way. Bear Down!