The 2018-19 college basketball season is barely a month in the books, but Bracketologists around the country are already releasing their early projections.
With 100 days until Selection Sunday, the Arizona Wildcats are a strong bet to make the NCAA Tournament, but they have little room for error.
Andy Katz of NCAA.com released his first bracket projection Friday, and he has Arizona as a No. 9 seed in the Midwest region squaring off against No. 8 seed St. John’s. If Katz’s clairvoyance proves correct, Sean Miller would face former UA transfer Justin Simon, who averages 10 points per game for the undefeated Red Storm.
In Katz’s projection, the Wildcats would need to beat St. John’s to face top seed Duke in the Round of 32.
Katz is high on ASU — he has the Sun Devils as a No. 5 seed in the West region.
ESPN’s resident Bracketologist Joe Lunardi is less optimistic about Arizona’s postseason chances.
Lunardi has the Wildcats among his First Four Out, just in front of Washington. Lunardi predicts three Pac-12 teams to make the Big Dance, with ASU and Oregon earning No. 8 seeds and UCLA squeezing in as a No. 11 seed.
Bracketmatrix.com provides a composite of all bracket projections. Of the 15 current bracket projections, Arizona averages out to a No. 8 seed.
The Wildcats score as high as a No. 5 seed in three of those projections.
Arizona’s next two games against Alabama and Baylor could ultimately determine where the Wildcats are seeded, or if they make the Tournament at all.
Alabama and Baylor are both 5-3 with and neither project to be competitive in conference play. While Alabama and Baylor are Power 5 programs, the Selection Committee likely won’t view a win over either team as a resume builder.
Instead, Arizona needs to avoid accumulating one or two “bad” non-conference losses that could drag down its standing come 100 days from now.
Of course, Arizona will also need to beat Montana and UC Davis later this month, which isn’t a sure-thing after the team’s sluggish performance much of Thursday night against Utah Valley.
Arizona’s best chance to pick up wins that could actually enhance its Tournament profile will likely come against ASU, who is the Pac-12 team safely projected to make the Big Dance as of today.