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Staff picks: preseason predictions


Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, November 19, 2004
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Shane Bacon
staff writer
Michael Irish
staff writer
Kyle Kensing
staff writer

Arizona men's final finish

Shane Bacon: Every person on campus agrees that this team is better than last year's. Mustafa had a year to mature (and lose his hurricane shot). Salim had a long offseason to stop acting like he's a 13-year-old girl who just got her Barbie taken away. Channing, Ivan and Kirk got bigger over the summer, packing on pound after precision pound. Our recruiting class was as good as it's been since 2002. The only problem is, can we just go out and do what we know we can? I just want them to prove me wrong.
Elite Eight

Michael Irish: Year after year it's the same thing. Preseason top 15 National Rank, deep roster, tons of hype...early tournament exit. The trend will continue. Sure Arizona is easily the best team in the Pac-10, but it plays two ranked teams in the regular season. Come tourney time, all of the top teams are there and everyone is on the top of their game. Sadly for UA fans it will be another year for disappointment. Look on the bright side; men's basketball is still more fun to watch than the football team...

Kyle Kensing: After a one-year setback, Arizona is primed to return to national prominence. On paper, UA has all the tools necessary to win the Pac-10 and possibly the national championship. No one can boast a better starting five, nor can another team stake a claim to having the best center in the nation, which Arizona does in Channing Frye. If the Wildcats play to their potential - and that's a big if - it will be a Final Four season.
Final Record: 29-6, loss in the semifinals (Final Four)

Men's national champion

Shane Bacon: I took the Bear Down Oath when I became a Wildcat student, vowing to hate any other basketball program as if they had spit on my mom and fired my dad. But with Arizona again looking like a team that is destined to fall short, I have to pick Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets continue to improve in all positions on the floor and are lead by the best point guard in the nation. What is their X-factor? Well, he's short, quick and used to play in McKale.
Georgia Tech

Michael Irish: As much as I would like to say the UCLA Bruins will once again claim this honor, it just isn't going to happen. Give them about 3 years... The Tar Heel State triumvirate of UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest, along with Georgia Tech, form a strong ACC. Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick have already won once at Syracuse and you can't count out Kentucky or any of the Midwest powerhouses. Coming out on top will be Wake Forest being led by National Player of the Year Chris Paul.

Kyle Kensing: Five of the last six national champions are either from the ACC or Big East, and who am I to interrupt continuity? Though Wake Forest seems to be the consensus preseason favorite, the experience of Syracuse stars Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick speak more loudly than the potential of Wake's Chris Paul. Warrick and McNamara know what it takes to win the Big One.
National Champion: Syracuse (Gotta love the zone defense)

Arizona women's final finish

Shane Bacon: So the hottest ticket in town is always in McKale. But this year, could it belong to the women's basketball team? With the best center in the entire nation at our fingertips, the support will be tremendous for the No. 21 Wildcats. The only problem is the inability to get past the first round in the NCAA Tournament. Like Momma always said, "Baby steps, Shane, baby steps."
Second Round

Michael Irish: The preseason No. 22 UA women's basketball team started off its season with a bang, winning two straight to open the season. Being one of two ranked teams in the Pac-10, the Wildcats look to take the conference championship, while only being contested by #7 Stanford in the PAC. Arizona could reap some havoc against the top teams, making some major upsets. Realistically though come Final Four weekend, they will be with the UA Men's team...watching it on TV.

Kyle Kensing: Women's basketball may be the most underrated program in Tucson. Joan Bonvicini has built a solid tradition which will only continue to grow stronger. The sky's the limit for this year's team, led by All-America shoe-ins Dee-Dee Wheeler and Shawntinice Polk. Another Pac-10 title isn't a guarantee if Stanford has any say in it. Nevertheless, UA has all the tools to have another program-best year.
Final Record: 29-8, Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament

Women's national champion

Shane Bacon: What is more boring than watching the Women's NCAA Tournament? You get to the Final Four and have three one seeds and a two seed. Sometimes lighting will hit twice, breaking a mirror that was placed under a ladder next to a black cat and you'll have a third or fourth seed, but upsets are as common as Cardinal playoff victories. Going out on a limb is picking the third best-team in the nation.
University of Texas

Michael Irish: Since when is Tennessee or UConn not a good pick here? These two are meeting in the final four every year. There are no surprises in women's basketball, which leads to both good and bad things. The good: it makes it easy for us to choose a winner from a handful of teams. The bad: is that there is never any change. The good teams keep getting all the recruits. UConn wins for the fourth time in a row, a new record.

Kyle Kensing: Connecticut's stranglehold on the rest of the NCAA will finally end. Ah, that feels great to write. While Tennessee could keep the women's basketball scene rather predictable, programs like LSU and Texas have steadily become contenders. This could also be the year a dark horse storms through the NCAA Tournament to win it all (Arizona, maybe?). Don't be surprised if one of these up-and-comers takes the prize.
National champions: Texas



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