The first? The 4 p.m. ET tip is arguably the first time in Arizona coach Sean Miller’s eight seasons in Tucson that the league’s two traditional powers and rivals (across various eras, but still) will meet up with the Bruins, and not the Wildcats, looking like the obviously superior team. For pretty much all of Miller’s tenure, the Wildcats have either been marginally better (and there have been some pretty marginal UCLA teams in the past eight years) or — more often in the years since Alford arrived — downright dominant.
The 2013-14 Bruins were 28-9, 12-6 in the league, had the conference’s best offense, went to the Sweet 16, and even knocked off Arizona in the Pac-12 title game, and were still never mentioned in the same national-title-contention breath. The 2014-15 Wildcats were a juggernaut. The 2015-16 team was just OK, by Miller’s standards, but still vastly better than the 15-17 Bruins, Jan. 7’s home upset notwithstanding.
The script has been flipped, as the kids might say.
Our 2017 farm rankings are based on seeing prospects and talking to scouts, executives and team officials. For the prospect rankings, at least 10 prospects will be ranked, though most teams will have more than 10 players in the minors who project to be more than replacement-level big leaguers — and every one of those players count.
This means some teams near the top of the list get “credit” for having 20 or more of these types of players, whereas the bottom third may struggle to include 10. Favor is given to prospects with higher upside compared to those with less potential to become stars but with a higher probability of reaching the majors in some role.
As few clubs are able to afford stars on the open market, a team developing its own stars is critical for many franchises. A prospect who projects as a star is currency to acquire current major leaguers. Teams in the top 10 have potential stars and second-tier prospects with future big-league value, while teams in the bottom 10 don’t have much of either.