The result of the game won't be found in the win-loss column and it would be difficult for most to find Sioux Falls on the map, but when Arizona takes on South Dakota's Augustana College on Monday night, the exhibition will carry more weight than its title may imply.
It has been close to a decade since the Wildcats began the season with such high expectations – runaway favorites to win the Pac-12 and a top 5 ranking in the Coaches poll – and this will be the first true chance for Sean Miller to show off what he's got.
Will Aaron Gordon manhandle undersized opponents and get to the rim on his own volition? Can Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski display all the progress they've made over the summer in an actual game setting? And just how far assimilated is transfer point guard TJ McConnell with the rest of his offense?
Augustana will be Arizona's first barometer and although the Vikings are Division II, they are in the upper echelon of the league and were ranked No. 22 in the Division II Bulletin Preseason poll.
With that said, Augustana fields an unusually young team this year and has just two players over 6'6. That could spell some trouble against Arizona.
The Vikings, along with every other opponent the Wildcats face this year, will have to conjure a way to deal with a front-court of Gordon, Ashley, and Tarczewski. All three are formidable threats in their own way and all three have the ability to wreck havoc when placed on the same court together.
Furthermore, all signs indicate that the two sophomore big men have made tremendous developmental progress over the summer. Ashley has refined his jumper and become more aggressive attacking the basket while Tarczewski has muscled up.
Augustana will also have to deal with Arizona's front-court bench, which also happens to include a McDonald's All-American. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson's athleticism mixed in with his tenacious play on defense could make any opposing coach cringe. His unwavering will to win in any and all settings should be the coach's worst nightmare.
Matt Korcheck and eventually Zach Peters, when he becomes fully healthy, will provide the Wildcats with more depth up front.
Yet as strong as the big men are expected to be this season, what makes the Wildcats tick is the back-court tandem of TJ McConnell and Nick Johnson. Somehow, the duo have flown under the radar (on a national level) but they could end up separating Arizona from very good to great.
Monday will be the first real opportunity to see how far along McConnell has come in creating chemistry and communication with his teammates. He has worked on his vocal leadership in practice and what better time to test it than in front of a rocking McKale crowd.
While an exhibition game is only that, an exhibition, it feels and means more this year. Not because there are more question marks but because the answers could foretell just how special this season will turn out to be.