The extreme minority.
Of the 98 projections currently tracked by BracketMatrix.com, Arizona is listed as being in the field of 68 in just eight of them. And seven of those brackets were last updated prior to the Wildcats’ 95-88 overtime loss at ASU last Thursday.
So it goes for a team that has lost three in a row and four of five since beginning 4-0 in Pac-12 play. At 14-8, Arizona already has more losses than it did last season and it’s looking more and more like the only way the Wildcats will make a seventh consecutive NCAA appearance is to win the Pac-12 tourney in March.
They’re not totally out of contention for an at-large bid, though, considering several notable bracketologists still mention them among the first handful of teams currently outside the field. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has Arizona as one of the “next four out” as essentially the fifth-best non-tourney team, while CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has the Wildcats as the last of his “first four out.”
A win Thursday at home against Pac-12 leader Washington would do wonders for Arizona’s chances. The Wildcats have won four straight at home over the Huskies, the last loss coming in 2012 … which was also the last time they didn’t make the NCAA tourney.
Arizona’s thin NCAA tourney chances were no doubt damaged by the ASU loss, though it didn’t have the same impact on its place in various computer rankings.
In fact, the Wildcats actually moved up in a few metrics from this time a week ago.
The NCAA’s new NET ranking, which is expected to be a key criteria for the tournament selection committee, has Arizona at No. 65. That’s up three spots from last week.
Arizona has moved up five spots, to No. 63, in KenPom.com’s rankings, while the now-defunct RPI kept Arizona at No. 63 despite the ASU loss. ESPN’s BPI dropped the Wildcats one spot, to No. 68, but that metric also has a 13-9 Oregon team that’s 4-5 in Pac-12 play at No. 52 so it might not be the best indicator.