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Arizona ‘OK’ with being in South Region of NCAA Tournament

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“You can’t make too much of the seed or the place you’re going. You have to play well.”

NCAA Basketball: Stanford at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Just like most Arizona Wildcats fans, Rawle Alkins is surprised his team was selected as the No. 4 seed in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament.

Unlike a lot of fans, he doesn’t think it’s a big deal.

“We were surprised to be in Idaho, but at the same time, this is basketball at the end of the day,” he said.

Most expected Arizona to be a 3- or 4-seed in the favorable West Region.

“I think for us, you can’t make too much of the seed or the place you’re going,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “You have to play well. It could be the perfect setup, but if you don’t play really well there’s so much parity in the tournament that you’ll end up losing.”

Arizona will open tournament play against 13th-seeded Buffalo in Boise, Idaho on Thursday. If it wins that game, it will play either fifth-seeded Kentucky or 12th-seeded Davidson on Saturday in the second round.

Alkins did admit that playing in Boise, as opposed to nearby San Diego, could weaken Arizona’s home-court advantage.

Maybe.

“I think that we have great fans, so they’re probably gonna travel no matter where we go,” he said. “We have the best fans in the country, so it shouldn’t matter where we go. At the same time, we probably would’ve had more of a home-court advantage if we were in San Diego, and that’s the difference between an hour flight and a three-hour flight. But it’s OK.”

Being in the South Region instead of the West also means Arizona will head to Atlanta instead of Los Angeles should it advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

The Wildcats would likely be playing No. 1 seed Virginia there, whose campus is just an eight-hour drive from Atlanta.

“I don’t really know what to expect. We don’t know what to expect,” Alkins said of being in the South Region. “I would like to say we’re the underdogs right now. We have a lot to play for. We’re playing against great teams, potentially, and we’re just gonna have to give it our all.”

Miller’s thoughts on Buffalo and its high-powered offense can be found here.


Miller thinks USC should have made the NCAA Tournament

The most surprising thing that happened in the Pac-12 on Selection Sunday wasn’t Arizona being sent to the South Region or Arizona State squeaking into the tournament.

Nope. It was the USC Trojans being left out of the big dance altogether.

Not only did USC finish second in the Pac-12 and advance to the conference tournament championship game, it has an RPI of 33 which is the best ever for a non-tournament team.

The Trojans also rank 40th in KenPom’s rankings, which is better than several at-large teams, including Syracuse, NC State, ASU, and Alabama.

But the Trojans were evidently burned by their lack of quality wins. Their only victories against NCAA Tournament teams came against Cal State Fullerton and New Mexico State, two mid-major automatic qualifiers.

Still, Miller thinks USC deserved a bid. He’s seen up-close what the Trojans can do.

“I know the selection committee has a tough job. Just playing against them, not only are they capable of being in the tournament, but they would be a team that would be capable of advancing,” he said. “That’s the parity of our game and, unfortunately for us, they were left out.”

Meanwhile, USC coach Andy Enfield thinks the Wildcats are under-seeded. “Arizona is one of the best teams in the United States,” he said Monday.

Kentucky coach John Calipari is surprised Arizona is a 4-seed, too.

The selection committee can never win.


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire