The opening tip off of the 2022-23 NCAA men’s basketball season is just around the corner, and when Arizona hosts Nicholls State on Nov. 7 it will kick off Year Two of the Tommy Lloyd era.
It seems like just the right time to ponder the Wildcats’ place in the sport’s hierarchy, especially after wracking up 266 wins, five Pac-12 regular season titles, two Elite Eight appearances and one No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft (Deandre Ayton in 2018) during the last decade.
The one thing the Wildcats have failed to do, however, under previous coach Sean Miller and during Lloyd’s first season, is reach the Final Four.
But Lloyd’s bunch is among the Arizona sports betting frontrunners to do just that in 2023, with BetMGM giving the Wildcats +2000 odds of winning it all, ranking 10th.
Arizona last made the Final Four in 2001, when it eventually reached the title game only to lose to Duke, 82-72.
Since then, the Wildcats have lost to Kansas (2003), Illinois (2005), UConn (2011) and Wisconsin (2014 and 2015) in the Elite Eight.
What Makes a Blue Blood?
The Wildcats' failure to get over the hump and into the Final Four ultimately cost them a spot in a list of current college basketball “blue bloods” that BetArizona.com put together.
Using 2012 as a starting point, we looked at various categories of college basketball success to determine a threshold a program must reach to be considered for “‘blue blood” status.
Points were awarded to each program in the following areas: championship wins (10 per win), championship appearances (5 per appearance), Final Four appearances (4 per appearance), NCAA Tournament appearances (1 per appearance) and Top 25 recruiting classes (1 for each).
A program needed 35 points over the span of 2012 to 2022 to be considered a new college basketball blue blood.
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Wildcats On Outside Looking In
The Wildcats finished with 17 points, getting hammered in the rankings by their inability to advance past the Elite Eight. The team’s seven NCAA Tournament berths and a dominant decade in recruiting accounted for Arizona’s point total.
In the end, the Wildcats wound up outside the top 15 of current elite college basketball programs, sharing company with teams like Ohio State, Florida and Texas Tech.
The top teams by our metric, which all hit the 35-point standard to be classified as college basketball “blue bloods,” were North Carolina, Villanova, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and Louisville.
The Wildcats wound up with the most points of any school with zero Final Four berths.
Without the top-heavy points that come from Final Four, NCAA title game and NCAA championship seasons, however, the Wildcats’ path to “blue blood” status was a dead-end trek.
Lloyd and company will do their best to end Arizona’s 21-year Final Four and 26-year title droughts this season, with a squad ranked 17th in the Associated Press preseason poll.