The Wildcats have defensive claws, which is why many are selecting them for a deep NCAA Tournament run this March. Check out this article from our friends at numberFire.com identifying 8 players who will change games with their defense on the road to the Final Four, including two Arizona Wildcats.
T.J. McConnell, Arizona Wildcats
T.J. McConnell is only one of two guards to make it into this group of elite defenders, and rightfully so. The Arizona point guard is the leader of the NCAA tournament’s fourth-best defense, and puts a lot of pressure on his fellow ball-handlers. McConnell is averaging 2.1 steals per game and has a steal percentage of 4.2% on the season — that’s 17th in the nation.
McConnell’s pressure in the backcourt has contributed to a total of 2.8 Defensive Win Shares (seventh in the nation) and a Defensive Rating of 86.4, which is 17th in the country. McConnell might be the best defensive point guard in all of college basketball.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona Wildcats
Much like the duo of Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns, T.J. McConnell has a lot of help on the defensive end of the floor. His biggest help comes in the form of 6’7″ forward, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Hollis-Jefferson can guard any position on the floor, and is one of the best and most versatile defenders in the country. He should have won the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and the numbers back that up.
RHJ averages about a steal (1.2) and a block (0.9) per game in 28.4 minutes per game. Accordingly, he ranks 10th in the country in both Defensive Rating (85.4) and Defensive Win Shares (2.8). Hollis-Jefferson is a big reason why the Wildcats rank third in Adjusted Defensive Rating and are in the 99th percentile defensively.