The Arizona Wildcats received their highest preseason ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 media poll in a decade.
The Wildcats were rated No. 6 in the poll released today, their highest-ever preseason ranking under coach Sean Miller and highest overall since 2003-04, when the Wildcats went 20-10 and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats have also been ranked No. 5 in the USA Today coaches Top 25, and were rated No. 5 by both the Sporting News and Blue Ribbon Yearbook preseason annuals.
In the Athlon Sports annual, UA was rated No. 6 while Lindy’s had the Wildcats at No. 11.
Arizona is also the No. 1 seed in the Preseason NIT and was made a heavy favorite to win the Pac-12 conference, with 21 of 23 media voters who cover the Pac-12 picking the Wildcats first.
However, before Miller took over the Wildcats in 2009, high preseason rankings historically did not foreshadow postseason success for Arizona.
Of the 12 previous teams to be given a Top 10 ranking, only four reached the second weekend of the NCAA tournament – and only one (in 2000-01) made the Final Four.
Of Arizona’s four previous Final Four teams, the 1998 team was rated No. 17 in the preseason, the 1994 team was ranked 18, the 1997 national champions were ranked 19th and the 2000-01 team was ranked No. 1.
Three UA teams ranked in the Top 5 in the preseason – in 2003-04, 1994-95 and 1991-92 – all lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Miller, however, has never had a team ranked in the preseason Top 10. The Wildcats were not ranked at all throughout his first two seasons, 2009-10 and 2010-11, and began the 2011-12 season ranked No. 16 but were out of the poll most of that season.
Last season, Arizona was rated No. 12 in the preseason poll, finished in a second-place tie in the Pac-12, and reached the NCAA Sweet 16.
The Associated Press posted five things to know about its poll.