If you're not getting a little bubble anxiety leading up to the Pac-12 Tournament, maybe you should open your ears. Luck and hard work appears to be paying off as the Arizona Wildcats look to nail in their place in this year's NCAA tournament, but weirder things have happened.
In short, they've got a little more work to do.
good bet an obvious truth that the Wildcats will need to avoid a rivalry game upset this Sunday against the Arizona St. Sun Devils unless they hope to win four games in four nights in the Pac-12 tourney. Even with a win, they'll need to show some muscle in at least a few games of the league tournament to solidify a bid.
At 1.5 games out of first place and the other teams in the upper half of the Pac-12 playing two games to UA's one, a win against ASU does two things, as Bruce Pascoe points out. For one, it avoids a terrible loss. In addition, it guarantees them a bye as a top-4 seed in the Pac-12 heading into the tourney.
Eleven days ago, the mock media conference predicted Arizona as the very last team picked into the tournament as a non-automatic qualifier. Since, the Wildcats have won two of three, dropping what would've been a extremely useful win at Washington.But there's still a lot of positive signs that Arizona will make it in with a few more wins despite their mediocrity in a piss-poor conference. ESPN's Joe Lunardi's most recent analysis has the Wildcats in as a No. 42 seed in his S-curve, and as we've thought here despite some pessimists' comments on this very website, the Pac-12 will likely send three teams to the Big Dance.
Of course, that's looking more and more like locks for California, Washington and Arizona. Lunardi lists the Oregon Ducks as the next four out (which would be after his first four out ... so that'd make the Ducks one of eight teams who will likely be out ... but maybe not).
And because the Wildcats couldn't pull off what would've been a stellar win in Seattle, perhaps this weekend's victory against the UCLA Bruins, that while under-performing all year matches up favorably against Arizona, is a significant one.
Eamonn Brennan of ESPN's College Basketball Nation Blog certainly believes that's the case, and I can't disagree to a great extent. Sure, Arizona still has some work to do in showing they're ready to go, but with Oregon and Colorado playing one another and having two games to falter to Arizona's one, things are going in the Wildcats' favor.
When you get down to it, their improvements and adjustments to frequent roster movement give the NCAA Selection committee evidence that this Wildcat team, especially behind it's strong defense, can compete with most college teams that are lacking dominant big men. Heck, they even hung around long enough for overtime in a loss at Florida, who was riding a career night from Patric Young.
The fight through a tumultuous season has been there, and now it's just time for the Wildcats to throw their last two punches to find themselves dancing.
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