After winning a share of the Pac-12 regular season title, the Arizona Wildcats are going to be playing with house money in Las Vegas this weekend as far as they’re concerned.
Not to say there is nothing at stake for the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Tournament — their performance could impact their seeding in the NCAA Tournament — but Sean Miller doesn’t think too much about its possible ramifications.
“I don’t, just because we can’t control it,” the UA head coach said Monday at his weekly press conference. “I think our season speaks for itself. ... We’re entering Las Vegas to show up and compete and play. For us, it’s no bigger than that.”
For that reason, Miller says the Wildcats will have “no pressure” on them heading into the conference tournament.
Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
“I mean, we’re trying to win every game, but there’s a lot that’s going to happen this week and if it happens to be really good for us, great,” he said. “If it doesn’t, I think we all recognize that next week is big.”
Miller sees the Pac-12 Tournament as a win-win scenario.
If the Wildcats win it, they would likely cement themselves as a two-seed in the NCAA Tournament, at minimum.
If they lose early? It could send them to the three- or four-line, but it would allow them to get an extra day or two of rest before for the NCAA Tournament.
“Once in a while you can play great and win three games in three days, and you leave there on Saturday beaten up.” Miller said.
“So we’ll see. Are we going to try to win the Pac-12 Tournament? Of course. But if we do or don’t I think it’s clearly about that next tournament to be healthiest and most ready we can be.”
“March is about the NCAA Tournament,” Miller added.
How Arizona plays in the Pac-12 Tournament could also determine which region it is slotted in for the NCAA Tournament.
The West region is generally seen as the most favorable for UA for proximity reasons, but Miller is rather indifferent to where the Wildcats are sent.
“Part of when you talking about what region you’re in, you’re presuming that we’re going to get past the first and second round,” he said. “And it’s hard to get to the Sweet 16. It’s not easy to get to a Sweet 16 whether you’re a one-seed or a six-seed.
“I think it’s about us being the most ready this week and having a chance to be a team that can play into the second weekend.”
The regional sites this year are San Jose (West), Memphis (South), New York (East), and Kansas City (Midwest).
“Wherever we’re at, we’re going to play excellent teams on a neutral court,” Miller said. “We’ve been in the West where we’ve been in the Elite Eight and didn’t get to the Final Four. I know the history of the tournament at Arizona. Teams of the past have gone to different locations and made it to the Final Four. It’s so much more about playing your best and hopefully having a matchup that’s good for you.
“All teams have certain styles that they’re going to be more comfortable against.”
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