As if it weren’t already apparent, Saturday’s home loss to Washington State officially ended any consideration for the Arizona Wildcats making the NCAA tournament other than by claiming the Pac-12’s automatic bid.
Even that seems improbable, considering Arizona has lost five in a row and is now in a four-way tie for seventh place in the conference standings.
But that doesn’t mean the Wildcats’ season would necessarily end when they play their last Pac-12 tourney game in Las Vegas next month. There are still a trio of consolation tournaments beyond the NCAA that Arizona could end up accepting an invite to, if that were something it were interested in.
While Arizona is completely absent from the 98 NCAA projections currently tracked by BracketMatrix.com, it is appearing in a forecast for the NIT. As in National Invitation Tournament, often called the ‘Not In Tournament.’
Take this for what it’s worth, but DRatings.com has the Wildcats slotted as a No. 7 seed in the 32-team NIT, which is operated by the NCAA and seeded using the same NET rankings that the 68-team main event use. Arizona sits 84th in that metric, which probably explains why the NIT projection has it only ahead of teams from mid- and low-major conferences.
Arizona last appeared in the NIT in 2012, losing at home to Bucknell in the first round. That was as a No. 1 seed.
If the NIT isn’t available, there are also the CBI and CIT that could consider Arizona. The CBI is a 16-team event while CIT’s field size varies and consisted of 20 teams last season.
One thing to consider with these non-NCAA tourneys: having a .500 record is required, which means Arizona would have to win at least two more games to ensure that mark. Other than the Feb. 21 home game against California, the Wildcats may not have another certain victory remaining on the schedule.