Happen to be invited to a wedding in late March? The good news is it’s looking like you won’t be looking at your phone much during the ceremony.
That’s because it’s looking less and less like the Arizona Wildcats are going to be in this year’s NCAA tournament, at least based on where they sit in various computer rankings and NCAA tournament projections after blowout road losses to USC and UCLA last weekend.
Arizona hasn’t missed the tourney since 2011-12, its six consecutive appearances tied for the eighth-longest active streak in Division I. Yet, even before Saturday’s 90-69 loss to UCLA, the Wildcats were on Bleacher Report’s list of top programs in jeopardy of missing the 2019 field.
Here’s a breakdown of how Arizona is viewed by computer rankings and bracketologists (spoiler: not good):
The days of RPI are behind us, that antiquated ranking no longer under consideration by the NCAA tournament’s selection committee. That’s unfortunate for Arizona, since at 63rd that’s its highest ranking in any major metric.
For the record, the lowest RPI for a team to get in with an at-large bid was 67. That was by USC, in 2011.
Arizona’s next best ranking is in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI), which puts the Wildcats at No. 67, fourth-best in the Pac-12. For what it’s worth—not much—it has Arizona 56th in terms of “strength of record,” which is third-best in the league.
The NCAA’s new NET ranking has Arizona 68th, same as KenPom.com. Too bad that the selection committee doesn’t just take the top 68 teams.
We’re less than seven weeks from Selection Sunday, which means there’s plenty of time for Arizona to build up its NCAA tournament resume to the point it makes it worthy of an at-large bid. But for the time being, things don’t look good.
Of the 86 projections listed on BracketMatrix.com, only 32 include the Wildcats. And only two of those were updated after the UCLA loss. That includes Ruckles Bracketology, who somehow has Arizona as a No. 9 seed.
BracketMatrix lists that site as the 13th-most accurate at projecting NCAA fields since 2014, so maybe it’s onto something.
Among the projections of more well-known bracketologists, though, Arizona’s name only appears on lists of teams on the outside looking in.
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has the Wildcats as one of his ‘first four out,’ as does ESPN’s Joe Lunardi—though his bracket was last updated prior to Saturday’s action.
Sports Illustrated has Arizona among the first eight out, while TeamRankings.com gives the Wildcats a 38 percent chance of grabbing an at-large bid as well as a 12 percent chance to get in as the Pac-12’s automatic qualifier.