The performance of Wildcats in years when they entered the AP Top Five.

How Wildcats Have Fared in Years They Cracked AP Top Five
Fact Checked by Young Ruth

Arizona, entering its third season under coach Tommy Lloyd, has had one of the strongest beginnings to the season among men’s college basketball teams.

This year, the Wildcats are clearly strong candidates for the title, boasting seven straight wins, impressive victories over No. 2 Duke and No. 21 Michigan State, and currently sitting at the top of the Associated Press poll.

This belief is backed by oddsmakers, who have ranked the Wildcats as the third favorite to win the title on both ESPN BET Arizona (+1200) and BetMGM Sportsbook Arizona (+1400), trailing only Purdue and Kansas.

On December 16, the Wildcats will have a chance to showcase their skills against the Boilermakers in Indianapolis. After that matchup, Arizona will take on Alabama on December 20 and No. 11 Florida Atlantic on December 23. conducted a study on the Wildcats’ success in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament since its expansion to 64 teams in 1985, focusing on their performance when ranked in the top five of the AP poll.

The Wildcats were not ranked highly when they won their only national title in 1997, as they only reached a peak of No. 6 before their surprising tournament triumph.

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Arizona Basketball has been ranked in the AP Top 5 since 2000.

Year Highest Ranking First Date Reached Season Result
2023-24No. 1Dec. 4TBA
2022-23No. 2Nov. 28Lost to Princeton in NCAA 1st Round
2021-22No. 2Feb. 21Lost to Houston in NCAA Sweet 16
2017-18No. 2Nov. 20Lost to Buffalo in NCAA 1st Round
2016-17No. 4Feb. 20Lost to Xavier in NCAA Sweet 16
2014-15No. 2PreseasonLost to Wisconsin in NCAA Elite 8
2013-14No. 1Dec. 9Lost to Wisconsin in NCAA Elite 8
2012-13No. 3Dec. 24Lost to Ohio State in NCAA Sweet 16
2003-04No. 3Jan. 5Lost to Seton Hall in NCAA 1st Round
2002-03No. 1PreseasonLost to Kansas in NCAA Elite 8
2001-02No. 4Nov. 26Lost to Oklahoma in NCAA Sweet 16
2000-01No. 1PreseasonLost to Duke in NCAA Championship

Titles are not determined by rankings in the top 5.

Since 1985, Arizona has been ranked in the top five of the AP poll on 21 occasions, including appearances in the national title game in 2001, the Final Four in 1988, and the Elite Eight in 1998, 2003, 2014, and 2015.

Arizona has been knocked out in the opening round of the tournament six times when ranked in the top 5. In 1993, Steve Nash and the 15th seeded Santa Clara Broncos pulled off a major upset over the Wildcats.

Arizona teams ranked in the top 5 have a history of facing defeat in the Sweet 16, with seven Wildcats teams falling in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The most recent instance was in 2022 when they were beaten by Houston.

Following two consecutive losses in the Sweet 16 and first round, Lloyd’s team is looking to bounce back this season. Arizona betting apps have the Wildcats as the top pick to win the Pac-12 title at +120, with USC close behind at +450.



Peterson Christopher

Peterson Christopher has over seven years of experience covering sports and sports betting in Arizona, with previous roles at, the Tucson Weekly, and the Green Valley News. He currently holds the position of lead writer at

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