ARIZONA BASKETBALL

CBS Sports ranks every Division I basketball team, Arizona best in state

Oct 22, 2019, 10:53 AM | Updated: 12:46 pm
Arizona head coach Sean Miller signals to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketb...

Arizona head coach Sean Miller signals to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State at the Maui Invitational, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

(AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

CBS Sports ranked all 353 NCAA Division I basketball teams on Tuesday with just a couple of weeks until the season starts.

Arizona, Arizona State, Grand Canyon and Northern Arizona are all found on very different spots on the list.

The Wildcats are predicted to be the best team from the state and were placed 21st, same slot as on the AP Top-25 preseason poll.

This makes sense as head coach Sean Miller’s team reloaded this offseason with two five-star guard recruits, Nico Mannion and Josh Green, along with a couple of solid transfers. Only Oregon was ranked higher than Arizona from the Pac-12.

Matt Norlander from CBS Sports, who constructed the list, attributes his expectations to the revamped backcourt.

Nico Mannion might be one of the five or six best point guards in the sport this season. Fellow frosh Josh Green, who may well turn into a 2020 first-rounder, is a top-100 player. The addition of UC Irvine grad transfer Max Hazzard makes this team all the more appealing. The only backcourt maybe better than Arizona’s in the Pac-12 is up in Boulder, Colorado. Not Final Four hopefuls, but I expect the Wildcats to easily land a single-digit seed after a season away from the NCAA Tournament.

The next-best school on the list is ASU, at 64th place. The Devils are in a bit of a renovation as well with previous leading scorer Lugentz Dort and top rebounder Zylan Cheatham now on NBA teams.

But, ASU has some potential depth, especially at guard with the additions of four-star recruit Jaelen House and transfer Alonzo Verge. The two newcomers add to a rock-solid backcourt with returners Remy Martin and Rob Edwards.

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Norlander points out that the Sun Devils have a high ceiling, despite the low rating.

Led by Remy Martin, (forward) Taeshon Cherry, (center) Romello White, and (forward) Kimani Lawrence, if everything clicks, I could have the Sun Devils 25 spots too low. Looks like a fun team yet again.

He placed ASU 60th last season and it received an NCAA Tournament bid.

Grand Canyon is next at 122nd.

GCU has been a .500 team or better in all six years of being a Division I program under head coach Dan Majerle. It finished top-three in the WAC every season, but has yet to win the conference to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The Antelopes finished 20-14 in 2018-19 and their two best scorers, Carlos Johnson and Alessandro Lever are back along with three-star guard Jovan Blacksher Jr. This seems like a strong unit to get over the hump with.

Norlander disagrees.

The Lopes now expect to win 20 games each season. They’ll do that again in 2019-20 — but will come up just short once more of winning the WAC auto bid.

He placed defending WAC champions New Mexico State 49th.

Finally, NAU is in the 281st spot.

It has not won more than 10 games since 2014-15 nor made the NCAA Tournament since 2000.

Last year, the Lumberjacks won 10 contests under head coach Jack Murphy, who left the program this offseason. But there is some optimism in this list due to veteran starters.

The Lumberjacks lost Jack Murphy as coach, who left to take the top assistant spot at Arizona, but they bring back all five starters and should have their best team in five years.

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CBS Sports ranks every Division I basketball team, Arizona best in state