ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas believes the Arizona Wildcats are the best all-around basketball team in the west, listing them above UCLA, Gonzaga and Oregon and calling all of them Final Four capable.
Appearing on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Bickley and Marotta, Bilas heaped praise on Arizona coach Sean Miller for his handling of the team through bumps like the Allonzo Trier situation.
“I think what Sean Miller has done there is the best coaching job I’ve seen all this season,” Bilas said. “I think he’s the Coach of the Year and someone would have to take it away from him.”
The Wildcats (18-2) have won 12 straight games and defeated UCLA 96-85 on Saturday. Arizona vaulted from 14th to seventh in the AP Top 25 after the win, while UCLA fell from No.3 to No. 8.
“I think what Sean has done with that team and how good they are defensively and how they’re coming along on the offensive end, it’s been absolutely remarkable,” Bilas said.
Miller has coached the Wildcats since 2009, guiding the team to five NCAA tournament appearances in seven seasons and only one season with more than nine losses. The Wildcats are looking to be break through to the Final Four, marking the first time since UCLA in 2008 a team out west advanced that far.
Bilas also commented on Arizona’s geographic rival, Arizona State. The Sun Devils (10-11) have struggled to find their footing in a tough Pac-12 under second-year coach Bobby Hurley.
Despite the lack of a glamorous record, Bilas thinks Hurley can set up the program for success if given time.
“Bobby’s gonna get them there,” Bilas said. “He’s tough-minded and he won’t settle for less. The key is gonna be will Arizona State stick with it and put the resources behind it. You just don’t built a basketball program with one recruiting class. It’s gotta be over a period of time and that’s gotta be an institutional commitment.”