The 2013-14 men’s hoops schedule has already been unveiled, and even though it’s June Wildcat fans can’t wait to get the party started. What are the big games? What are some storylines to expect? We break down the Cats’ schedule in this sneak peak of the next season of Arizona basketball.
The first public viewing of the team will be the annual Red-Blue scrimmage, scheduled for October 12th. But then things get really interesting as Arizona embarks on its non-conference slate. Arizona is 14-1 in their last 15 games against non Pac-12 opponents, but they may face some stiffer tests next season.
Arizona is part of a talented Preseason NIT field, with a juicy championship matchup versus Duke on the table. But as good as it feels to beat down Duke, an early season game I’m looking forward to more is the November 14th rematch at San Diego St. Aztec fans surely have revenge on their minds after Arizona’s stunning buzzer block to crush the SDSU faithful’s hopes in the 2012 Diamond Head Classic championship. It should be a raucous and hostile atmosphere, and a great test of the Wildcats mettle on the road.
Without doubt, the gem of the schedule is a trip to Ann Arbor, MI to take on the 2012-13 National Runner-up Michigan Wolverines. Not only is it a matchup of bonafide top 10 programs, Arizona’s young but talented frontline will do battle with sophomore Mitch McGary, arguably the best big man in college basketball next season.
If things go as planned for both teams, the winner of the game would have a major feather in their cap towards securing a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcat-Wolverine showdown is on December 14th, exactly one month after the rematch with SDSU. Between those two games, Arizona should have a lot of road game experience before conference season starts.
The Pac-12 gods were kind to the Wildcats, giving them seven of the first eleven conference games at home. Arizona opens against the Washington schools, who both figure to have down years, then takes on ASU before welcoming Colorado and Utah. Basically, Arizona has a very good shot at opening conference play with a strong record if it takes care of business at home.
Sandwiched between the Washington schools and ASU is the lone matchup with UCLA and USC. Arizona travels to LA, but the Bruins and Trojans will not be playing at McKale next season. Wildcat fans will have to wait at least one more year to even up the record with UCLA, who went 3-0 versus Arizona last year.
Though Arizona gets to stay home most of the time for the first half of conference play, they will have to finish the season strong with five of the last seven on the road. That should prove to be a critical stretch for Arizona, who should be in contention for the Pac-12 regular season title. A minor slip up during this stretch could prove critical to the Cats’ conference title hopes.
Once again, the Pac-12 Tournament be held at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
So there you have it, a sneak peak at the big games and storylines too look forward to in 2013-14! What will the future hold for the next generation of Wildcat hoops? Tune in to find out!