The calendar flips to February tomorrow and the Arizona Wildcats (18-4, 8-1) kick off the second half of their Pac-12 season Wednesday when they square off with the Washington State Cougars.
So it’s time, folks. Grab your pens and your calculators and try to get into the minds of the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
This is our third straight year of Bracketology here at Arizona Desert Swarm and we’ve done quite well in the past. Last year, we finished in the top 20 of all bracket projections across the interwebs according to bracketmatrix.com. We even beat out the big guns last year such as FOX Sports, CBS, Yahoo and the King of the Brackets himself, Joe Lunardi of ESPN.
This year, we’re aiming for that number one spot — to give our loyal readers an accurate projection of what they can expect to see revealed on Selection Sunday.
Without further ado, let’s warm up the March Madness formula and see where the Wildcats stand with nine games to go in the regular season.
Last Four Byes: Texas, Texas A&M, Marquette, North Carolina State
Last Four In: Houston, Boise State, Washington, Syracuse
First Four Out: SMU, Virginia Tech, Missouri, Notre Dame
Next Four Out: Maryland, Western Kentucky, South Carolina, UCLA
The Wildcats are firmly on the 3-line right now and can obviously improve their standing with more dominance in Pac-12 play. Still, even as a 3-seed, the Wildcats have a geographic advantage with their first and second round games being played in San Diego and playing the West Regional Semi-Finals and Final in Los Angeles.
Then again, Arizona fans have seen how that geographic advantage has worked out the last five times the Wildcats have made the Sweet Sixteen.
The Pac-12 currently would have four teams in the field: Arizona, the Arizona State Sun Devils, USC Trojans and lastly, the Washington Huskies squeezing into a play-in game.
The UCLA Bruins are currently on the outside looking in. They can make a huge push toward the NCAA Tournament with their next three games. They host USC on Saturday afternoon and follow that up with a trip to the desert to play Arizona on Feb. 8 and Arizona State on Feb. 10. If the Bruins can sweep their way through those three, they’d be in much better shape to increase their chances of getting into the Big Dance.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12, while not listed for now, the Oregon Ducks and Utah Utes are far from done in their quest to play into March and just need some marquee victories to add to their respective resumes.
With just over a month left before conference tournaments begin, every game is crucial. Let’s see how the Wildcats fare in the eyes of the selection committee tonight against Washington State at 8 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 Network.