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January 2, 2013

What to watch for at Arizona in 2013



If the Mayans taught us anything in 2012, the future cannot be predicted.

But Arizona does already have its sights set on a few dates in the new year. Here's what to watch for in 2013:

Revenge on tap?

Our list gets started Thursday night at McKale Center.

Colorado, which knocked off UA in last year's Pac-12 Conference tournament championship game, will visit Tucson to open league play.

It will not exactly be the same cast of characters when the teams tip off at 6 p.m. MST. The Buffaloes are down three starters from last year's team, including standout guard Carlon Brown, and the Wildcats are much bigger than the last time head coach Tad Boyle last saw them.

But the Buffs are off to a 10-2 start including a win over previously-ranked Baylor, while the 'Cats rolled to a 12-0 mark including thrillers against top-25 programs Florida and San Diego State.

Title defense

In just 44 days, the defending College World Series champion baseball team will host Coppin State on Feb. 15 in the first of a three-game series to open the 2013 campaign.

But there will be no Kurt Heyer on the mound, Rob Refsnyder in right field or Alex Mejia at shortstop. With a No. 18 ranking, the Wildcats will be led by second-team preseason All-Americans Johnny Field and Konner Wade and third-team honoree Riley Moore.

But the site of the early CWS magic, Hi Corbett Field, will host 21 of their first 23 games.

Viva Las Vegas

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott hopes to have hit the jackpot March 13 when the four-day men's basketball tournament starts the first of a three-year agreement at Sin City's MGM Grand.

The tournament has been played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles since 2002.

Save the date

As one of just four unbeaten teams remaining in the country, the Final Four whispers will only grow louder the longer the streak continues.

Don't plan anything just yet from April 6-8, but a trip to Atlanta may be on the minds of many in Tucson.

New home turf - literally

Much like Hi Corbett changed the baseball program, athletic director Greg Byrne and head coach Rich Rodriguez are looking for a similar effect when the football team moves into the $72 million Lowell-Stevens facility in August.

A more concrete grand opening will be announced as the time passes.

But it is not just a fancy new weight room, football offices and the return of a few more seats to Arizona Stadium that are on the way.

Rodriguez's no-huddle offense will play the 2013 season on a new artificial turf field.

Ka'Deem's encore attempt

If 2012 was the breakout party, then 2013 for UA running back Ka'Deem Carey will be about taking his game to the next level.

Keep an eye on the All-American's NFL draft stock this year.

Arizona's single-season record holder for rushing yards and touchdowns will have his name in early Heisman Trophy talk, and it is possible that his junior campaign could be his last with the "block A" on his helmet. Carey, who was noncommittal when prematurely asked about his distant future prior to the New Mexico Bowl, is looking for the respect outside of the Pac-12 next season.

If it comes, then he better get used to hearing that question a lot more over the next 12 months.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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