6. Arizona (9-2)
This Arizona program has been massively successful in recent years, but they weren’t going to just rely on the Pac-12 to elevate them. The Wildcats have played a hellish nonconference slate, which already includes a road win over Duke, a blowout of Wisconsin, and a tough loss to Purdue earlier this month. This past week was even more intense than any of their previous weeks, with two high-profile matchups before the holiday break.
First, they took on Alabama on Wednesday, using a strong second half to secure an 87-74 win over a talented Crimson Tide squad. All five Arizona starters were in double-figures, led by 16-point efforts from both Oumar Ballo and Pelle Larsson. Three days later they were in Las Vegas and played one of the games of the year in college basketball, falling 96-95 to Florida Atlantic in double overtime. Despite the loss, Caleb Love was fantastic with 26 points and Ballo had 13 points and 21 rebounds.
There’s nothing to worry about, even with the Wildcats losing two of their last three games. Many teams are going to lose to Purdue and Florida Atlantic gave them quite the battle. The Wildcats have looked phenomenal at times this season, especially in some of those aforementioned wins, and are certainly the heavy favorites in the final season of the Pac-12. They’ll begin that road after Christmas with road games at California and Stanford.