KenPom preseason ratings: Arizona not in top 75

Not much love for anybody in the Pac-12

You know how much preseason ratings mean, even when they come from a respected college basketball analyst such as Ken Pomeroy.

Pomeroy, whose often-cited basketball analytics can be found at kenpom.com, released his initial 2018-19 ratings on Saturday ... and you have to go down the list quite a bit before you find a Pac-12 team. And you have to take a much deeper dive to find Arizona.

Pomeroy has the Wildcats at No. 76 -- five spots below Buffalo, which shocked Arizona in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and one spot behind reigning Big Sky champ Montana. He projects the Cats to finish 9-9 in the Pac-12, tied for sixth with Utah and Colorado.

He rates Oregon as the best Pac-12 team, but just 27th nationally. Washington is 46th, UCLA 47th, Arizona State 53rd, USC 61st, Utah 73rd, Arizona 76th ... and then Colorado at 81.

From a computer-based, analytical perspective, it's easy to see why Arizona doesn't move the needle in the preseason. The Wildcats lost all five starters and 84.6 percent of their scoring from last season. This team, far more than almost all others under Sean Miller at Arizona, will be a work in progress.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that predicting success -- and I think this is an NCAA Tournament team, unlike what Kenpom's preseason ratings indicate -- requires faith that young players and newcomers develop in new roles.

"We have a long way to go," Miller said earlier this month.

"Every team does this time of year, but, in our case, maybe even a little further just because of so much wholesale change. It's something that I have not experienced, and it's almost like taking over a new program."

With three transfers -- point guard Justin Coleman, forward Ryan Luther and center Chase Jeter -- joining a lineup that should include freshman guard Brandon Williams, expectations are modest.

"It's up to us to be better than maybe people on the outside predict us to be," Miller said. "We're going to work very hard. I think we have a unique combination of new players, because not everybody who has joined us is a freshman."

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