Arizona heads into what should prove to be its most hostile environment of the season. They'll step into the Coors Event Center as the center of directed rage stemming from a monitor mishap that sent the Buffs into a two-week spiral.
But they seem to have snapped out of it - winners of five of six and feeling real good about themselves - just in time to wear black to The Keg. This blacked out Valentine's Day matchup is getting the red carpet treatment from the hype machine and deservedly so. Arizona is 20-3 and the ninth ranked team in the nation. They are a good basketball team. And maybe it's just me but I've gained the sense that Arizona fans have lost that perspective.
Did you realize that this is just the sixth time an Arizona team has started a season 20-3? Have you forgotten that this team still has the battle tested Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill, and Kevin Parrom? Maybe we need to remember that following their two losses this season, Arizona has rolled Oregon State and USC. To say the hyper-competitive Sean Miller and his Wildcats aren't a touch pissed off about yielding 60% shooting to Cal would be to call maroon an ugly color. It's heinous and what I believe you're going to see Thursday is a furious group of Wildcats.
And maybe getting away from the pressure of McKale will behoove them? Defending home court has been central to Miller's spiel since his first presser, maybe his team feels undue pressure to perform there?
And let me ask you this, have you ever hosted a party? That stuff can get stressful:
You didn't invite Phil, right? Tiffany refuses to come if he's here.
You know Bill has a peanut allergy?
Susan isn't lactose-intolerant, she's three months sober!
Did you buy the quiche?
We need red cups!!!!
See what I mean? Sometimes getting out of dodge, breaking the routine and finding comfort in the uncomfortable is a good thing. Relax a little bit and drink someone else's beer; snack on the provided taquitos and dip into an unknown garnish; be the invitee.
On Thursday, Arizona is the guest. They're coming to the Valentine's Day party the Buffs have had circled for six weeks now and been dreaming of since the moment the officials stepped away from the monitors. That's pressure and they'll be looking to give Arizona an all too familiar biggest-game-nothing-to-lose shot. The same one the Cats have been handling season long. And while I really do think Colorado is going to take a big swing at this one, so too will the Wildcats.
They have to because they haven't in awhile and it's their turn. And when push comes to shove, when there's one last taquito on the platter, I think this host is going to defer.