Pac-12 Tournament: Arizona basketball opens postseason against Colorado

Jeff Gross

The first postseason game for the Arizona Wildcats comes against the Colorado Buffaloes and it will quickly determine if they have the mettle.

Time: 2:36 p.m. MST

TV: Pac-12 Networks

For the Arizona Wildcats the Pac-12 Tournament defines little other than seeding, which is at risk as they face the Colorado Buffaloes on Thursday. However, we'll quickly find out where Arizona's postseason mindset lies.

The game against a team that arguably swept Sean Miller's club during the regular season -- no thanks to Sabatino Chen's cutting it close -- will relay to the Pac-12 and the NCAA all of Arizona's weaknesses. At the same time, it's not like those aren't out for consumption already.

Seemingly, all of the Buffs' best players have had their share of big performances against the Wildcats in two games this year. Freshman forward Xavier Johnson is averaging 16 points and has hit 6-of-9 from three-point range against UA. Center Josh Scott, also a freshman, has played with the highly-touted UA big men. Chen had his career night and a pretty important three-pointer waved off.

But the backcourt that has Arizona's number, too. Spencer Dinwiddie is averaging 16 and 4.5 assists through the two games against the Wildcats, and Askia Booker has averaged 14 as well.

More improbably, Colorado has launched 38 three-pointers against the Wildcats in two games and made half of them. They matchup with Miller's crew across the board, they know they can play with Arizona and they have the memories of last year's Pac-12 Tournament championship to prove it.

The Wildcats, sans a true point guard, have questions to answer. Notably, can their freshmen show up each game? Hell, can their seniors show up each game? Though in my opinion, Nick Johnson's play from here on out has more to do with either of those items, so long as Arizona is hoping for a deep tournament run rather than a flame-out.

To say this team doesn't have talent would be wrong. To say it doesn't have players who care -- see, 2011-12 -- would be wrong as well. This team cares, and though it might have its deficiencies, it won't be because of effort. Mark Lyons isn't turning into a point guard. He's a shooting guard, but if he realizes it (as in, he probably does but doesn't know how to use his talent), he has the potential to offensively carry a team. Solomon Hill is one of the best role players available in the upcoming NBA draft. It's not that the NBA likes to draft role players, but he has the talent to be a great teammate.

Nick Johnson is to Arizona as Victor Oladipo is to Indiana. The differences between the two teams might not be as great as you think.

You know the story of this season. And by "you know", I mean that, if you've followed Arizona basketball this season, you don't know a thing.

Nobody does.

The Wildcats are a mess of good talent that has shown the ability to win against good teams and lose to mediocre ones. There's no rhyme or reason to which of the two Arizona clubs show up. But for hope's sake, it's good to remember that the Wildcats beat the ACC's best team by a good margin and did the same to the SEC's best team, Florida.

They have it in them. Who know if it will show at the right time?

That's why the postseason is great. So long as Arizona doesn't lose to Colorado on Thursday.

Live from Las Vegas

I'm going to be in Las Vegas writing about the Pac-12 Tournament. Honestly, I don't know how I'll spend my time off hand, but I suppose that I'll take the same mindset as any of the players -- enjoy the scene, don't do anything stupid that will jeopardize performance, and be safe.

And if anyone wants me collect sidewalk advertisements for them, now would be the time to ask.

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