The Arizona Wildcats are coming off their most successful road trip of the season this past weekend, and now appear to be improving in the eyes of bracketologists around the country. The second game of the trip was perhaps Arizona's biggest road win of the season, defeating the Washington Huskies, a current NCAA Tournament hopeful, on Saturday afternoon.
After the road trip, Arizona climbed each of the polls six spots, going up to 14th in the Coaches poll and 17th in the AP. They're now 7-4 in conference play and 19-5 overall.
They'll go for their 20th win on Friday night against the UCLA Bruins, which would seal Arizona's sixth consecutive 20-win season. But that's not the only reason this weekend's set of games will be huge for the Wildcats, as they will try to avenge a pair of painful losses to the Pac-12's Los Angeles schools. First off, against UCLA, who defeated Arizona on a Bryce Alford three with just seconds remaining. Then a Valentine's Day meeting with the USC Trojans, a team that won a four-overtime marathon against Arizona just a few weeks ago.
Both USC and UCLA remain on the NCAA Tournament bubble, and another pair of wins over potential March Madness participants would be huge for Arizona. Especially since the Wildcats are a team considered on the upswing, coming off three-straight wins and the return of freshman Allonzo Trier.
In fact, ESPN's Joe Lunardi's latest bracketology has Arizona climbing up to a 5 seed in the South region, set to kick things off in Denver. Lunardi's South region is loaded with blue bloods of the college basketball world, with Michigan State, Kentucky, Arizona, Duke and Indiana all in one bracket, beneath 1-seed, Oklahoma and 2-seed, Xavier. He has lowered the number of Pac-12 teams from eight to seven, leaving UCLA out of the field. Although, UCLA and Oregon State find themselves just on the outside looking in, as the fifth and sixth teams out.
CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm also has Arizona jumping up one seed as he now sees Arizona as a 6-seed in the tournament, starting out in Raleigh, NC, with a potential matchup with the 3-seed North Carolina Tar Heels. Clearly, Wildcat fans would prefer Lunardi's projection to take a trip to Denver and avoid a meeting with North Carolina in their home state. Interestingly enough, Palm has eight Pac-12 teams in the field, with Oregon State getting in over UCLA.
Bracket Matrix agrees with Mr. Palm, as they averaged out 74 brackets and sees Arizona as the top 6-seed in the field.
Speaking of Bracket Matrix, AZ Desert Swarm could end up on their radar in the near future. Next week, we will debut our own bracketology for your reading pleasure.