Some preseason love for Miller's Cats

Arizona getting national-title attention from at least one expert as college basketball predictions roll in.

Perhaps lost in the all the October upsets of college football, the hype machine that is the NFL and the drama of the MLB playoffs is the reality that it's only five weeks until college basketball tips off. And with tip-off approaching at a how'd-that-happen rate, CBS Sports' experts this week provided all their predictions for the upcoming season.

It's early, of course, and everything depends on the bracket and so on and so forth, but there's one prediction among the many that stands out from a local-interest perspective: Doug Gottlieb is picking Arizona to win the national title.

UA had gotten some top-10 love this offseason but hadn't -- at least to our knowledge -- been the subject of any serious national-championship discussion prior to Gottlieb's pick, which features only a logo and no contextual explanation. And it would appear that his peers aren't totally sold on the Wildcats, who don't appear in any of the other experts' Final Four projections and are only picked to win the Pac-12 by three of the five ( UCLA gets the other two votes). So it's not as if there's been a sea change in national opinion regarding UA.

But it's worth noting that not a single team appears in all five Final Four outlooks -- preseason No. 1 Indiana makes four appearances -- and even perennial favorite Kentucky shows up only once, so there's certainly no consensus about which teams comprise the elite tier this year. Further proof: All five experts foresee a different national champion, with Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville and Missouri getting one vote each.

So while UA might not be a favorite and thus might be somewhat of a surprise pick, it's a defensible pick (and perhaps an optimism-generating one in Tucson) considering that there appears to be no true favorite at all.

-- Matt Swartz

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