The Arizona Wildcats have won their second straight Pac-12 regular season championship, and what are they going to do next?
No, they won’t be going to Disney World like Nick Foles — they are going to get some rest.
“Everybody is just drained mentally and physically,” said UA point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright after Saturday’s 66-54 win vs. Cal.
For good reason. The Wildcats just finished one wild, wild week that started with Allonzo Trier still suspended, and them not knowing if Sean Miller would remain their head coach.
But both returned Thursday, before Arizona battled for two straight wins to finish the regular season 24-7 and 14-4 in the Pac-12.
“Everybody is just a little worn down,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “Mentally, it takes a toll on you when you’re dealing with stuff like that, what we’ve been through all week.”
Arizona will take Sunday off, then return to practice Monday to prepare for the Pac-12 Tournament. The Wildcats, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, will play the winner of the Arizona State-Colorado game at 1 p.m. MST on Thursday in the quarterfinals in Las Vegas.
“We have to be smart. It’s been a heck of a week. It’s been a long season,” Miller said. “We have to balance rest — mentally and physically — with a couple really good practices so we’re ready to go.”
The Pac-12 Tournament doesn’t mean a whole lot for Arizona, which has already done enough to be a high seed in the NCAA Tournament, but Miller likes how it prepares his team for March Madness’s single-elimination format.
“If you lose, it’s a loss that feels completely different because it’s the first time you have that feeling of ‘we don’t have a game tomorrow’ and the reason is because you lost,” he said. “And if you win, I think you build confidence and you get toughened through elimination. I think you’re more ready for what’s to come.
“Now if you physically get beaten up, or a player gets injured, that’s what you hope doesn’t happen. But none of us can really control that. We’re going to try to be our best. Anything less I don’t think will prepare us for what’s to come.”
Here is the full bracket (click to enlarge):
Arizona faced Colorado in the quarterfinals in both the 2016 and 2017 Pac-12 Tournament. The Wildcats were 1-1 vs. the Buffaloes this year, and 2-0 against the Sun Devils.
Arizona won the Pac-12 Tournament last season, beating Colorado, UCLA, and Oregon. The UA then fell to Xavier in the Sweet 16.
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire