The Arizona Wildcats had a difficult time avoiding adversity this season, but they did not have a problem avoiding a so-called “bad loss.”
Arizona finished the regular season 27-4 with its four losses — versus Butler, Gonzaga, Oregon, and UCLA — all being at the hands of teams that finished the season in the top 25.
Aside from the Wildcats’ ability to battle through injuries and suspensions, losing only to those teams is “the other thing” Sean Miller said he is most proud of about his squad.
“We lost to some really quality teams and each game represented different challenges,” he said. “But in addition to our 27 wins, you look at those types of losses as opportunities to learn and grow which we certainly have. But we lost to some really quality teams in addition to the success that we had.”
However, one could argue that the Wildcats did not have many quality wins, either. Arizona only beat one team in the top 25 (UCLA) and two teams in KenPom’s Top 50 (UCLA and Utah).
Sure, those games against Butler and Gonzaga may have been different if the Wildcats were healthy, but UA’s inability to beat the top teams it faced this year does leave the Wildcats open to criticism.
After all, to make it to the Final Four in Glendale, the Wildcats are going to have to beat several top 25-caliber teams to get there, which they haven’t proven they can do on a consistent basis.
They may have a chance to reverse that trend in the Pac-12 Tournament, though, as they could face the UCLA Bruins and/or the Oregon Ducks again in Las Vegas.
It’s an opportunity Arizona would love to have, especially the rematch against the co-champion Ducks, who the Wildcats only played once and were thoroughly embarrassed by this season.
“No one likes losing and especially not by 30,” Kadeem Allen said.
“We’ll say we’re Pac-12 champs and they’ll say they’re Pac-12 champs and hopefully we have a chance to see them in Las Vegas,” added Allonzo Trier.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire