It wasn't surprising when the Arizona Wildcats were left out of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. After all, the Pac-12 was probably lucky it got two teams in, with Colorado winning the Pac-12 Championship and named a No. 11 seed and the California Golden Bears making it into the play-in group of teams as a 12 seed.
The Wildcats will host the NIT as a No. 1 seed, and they'll open against Bucknell on Wednesday at McKale Center. They'll tip at 6 p.m. PST.
Also representing the talent-depleted Pac-12 is Washington, who became the first team to win its conference regular season title to miss the NCAA Tournament. Oregon and Stanford are also in the field as No. 3 seeds.
Sure, this was expected and it's definitely disappointing to Arizona fans. But Sean Miller's job here is to build a winning culture, and while that didn't translate to a berth to the NCAA tourney this season, instilling his players with motivation to play competitive ball past the regular season can only help down the road.
And if anything, the missed opportunities will put into perspective just how much work is needed to get into the Big Dance year after year.
That motivation could go a long way next season and beyond.