Kevin Parrom #3 and Kyryl Natyazhko #1 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts from the bench against the Connecticut Huskies during the west regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Honda Center on March 26, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
The Arizona Wildcats are the highest ranked team in the Pac-12 in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 preseason poll. Who else made the grade?
Midnight Madness has already come and gone meaning that all the focus is being shifted to the 2011-12 season of NCAA basketball action. The ESPN/USA Today Top 25 preseason poll has recently been released, as the Arizona Wildcats find themselves as the highest ranked West Coast team on the board.
After coming oh-so-close last season, the Wildcats are returning a number of key players, including Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, and Jesse Perry, giving the team and it's fans the highest of hopes for their upcoming season. They finished 27-7 last year, 14-4 in the Pac-12, and will be gunning to out do themselves this season with their caliber of talent. Arizona isn't the only Pac-12 team cracking the Top 25 this preseason though, as the UCLA Bruins come in at No. 20, along with the Cal Golden Bears just making the grade at No. 24 in the poll. West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga just snuck in the party as well, coming in at No. 23.
Looking ahead at the 'Cats schedule gets pretty serious early on in the season, taking on No. 10 Florida on Dec. 7, followed by a meeting with No. 23 Gonzaga ten days later. They'll get Arizona State New Year's Eve, the Bruins twice (Jan. 5, Feb. 25), as well as meetings with Washington (Jan. 28) and Cal (Feb. 2), then the Sun Devils again to finish the season on Mar. 4.
Of course there are a number of East Coast juggernauts atop the rankings, with North Carolina coming in on top, receiving 30 first place votes compared to only one for No. 2 Kentucky. Ohio State, Connecticut and Syracuse round out the top five, with the Duke Blue Devils patiently waiting in the wings at No. 6.