2. Tommy Lloyd – Arizona Wildcats
Few experts had the Wildcats becoming a national factor in Lloyd’s first season but Arizona managed to storm their way to a Pac-12 regular-season title in stunning fashion. Lloyd may not win National Coach of the Year Honors since Ed Cooley did an excellent job at Providence but the Wildcats have the talent base to cut down the nets in New Orleans next month.
Some considered Lloyd as the coach-in-waiting at Gonzaga behind Few but he opted to take the Arizona job instead. That decision proved to be wise as Lloyd built a dynamic team in Tucson that stunningly grabbed the Pac-12’s regular-season title ahead of preseason favorite UCLA.
The hype picked up for Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament as they won a thriller with the Bruins to add the postseason crown to their trophy case. A sprained ankle for guard Kerr Kriisa is concerning but if he can recover by the Round of 32 there is a great chance the Wildcats play deep into March.
As the top seed in the South Region, Arizona actually has a decent path to the Elite Eight since the top half of their draw has vulnerable No. 4 and No. 5 seeds in Illinois and Houston. The fear for Arizona would be an Elite Eight rematch with Tennessee, which beat the Wildcats in Knoxville during non-conference play.