The Wildcats' untapped potential

Arizona isn't the nation's No. 3 team right now. But it could be No. 1 by April

Updated: January 2, 2013, 12:37 PM ET
By John Gasaway | Basketball Prospectus
Arizona BasketballChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesThe Wildcats are featuring a very balanced offense this season.

You may not have been watching or even thinking about college hoops on Christmas Day, but if you were, you know that the Arizona Wildcats can thank Nick Johnson for being ranked No. 3 in the nation.

That was the day the Wildcats played San Diego State in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. With the Aztecs trailing 68-67 and less than five seconds remaining in the contest, Chase Tapley had what he thought was a clear path to an uncontested and, most likely, game-winning layup for SDSU. But that was before Johnson made a game-saving block for the Wildcats. Take it from Tapley, it was a pretty amazing play:

"I didn't even know he [Johnson] was around. He just came out of nowhere. I'm thinking the game is over. The next thing you know the ball is going off the backboard."

Thanks to Johnson's heroics, UA enters Pac-12 play 12-0 and ranked behind only Duke and Michigan in the national polls. The lofty ranking given to Sean Miller's team strikes me as somewhat ironic. On the one hand, No. 3 in the nation is a little too high for this young team. On the other hand, I can easily envision Arizona as the nation's third-best team -- or better -- before all is said and done in 2012-13.


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