In order for the Arizona Wildcats to make the NCAA tournament, it must win four games in four days. That’s a daunting task for a team that has only four victories in its last 14 contests, but that’s the task they have in front of them as they head to the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas.
Can they do it? If not, how far will they go in a city where they traditionally have excelled? Here’s what our writers have to say about Arizona’s arduous road ahead:
Brian J. Pedersen
At this rate, even getting out of the first round would seem like a major accomplishment for Arizona. Not just because they’re the lower-seeded team, but because the Wildcats aren’t exactly running on all cylinders heading to Las Vegas. But USC has lost four straight, getting swept by the Rocky Mountain schools last weekend and getting outscored by 18 in the second half at Colorado on Saturday. Yes, the Trojans whooped Arizona in January, but that was without Chase Jeter, who would have likely kept Nick Rakocevic from going off in the paint.
Beat USC and Arizona gets another shot at top-seeded Washington, which beat the Wildcats when they were without Brandon Williams. His presence could have kept them from registering a season-high 20 turnovers. Washington will have all the pressure on it, while Arizona would be playing with house money, making an upset entirely possible. But let’s be realistic: one win is the ceiling for this team.
Two weeks ago I really felt that Arizona would be playing on Friday regardless of its seeding. What a difference two weeks makes. Brandon Williams and Chase Jeter are healthy, which a is a big plus. However, something has just simply been off over the last two games. Foul trouble is a major piece to the puzzle and that’s correctable to an extent but also dependent upon the competency of the officials.
I could certainly see a scenario where the Wildcats are one-and-done in Las Vegas. I could also still see a scenario where the Wildcats make it to the semifinals on Friday. My best guess is it will be in between with a win over USC then losing to Washington on Thursday.
I’ll leave it at this, no one should be surprised by any outcome for Arizona. The conference is historically bad and UA’s potential second-round matchup is against a team that lost to Cal.
I want to say Arizona loses in the first round and this nightmare of a season can be put to rest. But something is telling me UA gets the win over USC, which will have everyone thinking it’ll be the start of a run to the conference title game.
This team isn’t good. They are worse than I expected them to be. Let’s get ready for next season, because everyone knows that’s going to be the year!
I think Arizona gets past USC before losing a tight one to top-seeded Washington in the second round.
Playing Washington in the second round is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because if Arizona can somehow beat them then, well, there would not be much stopping them from winning the whole dang thing. It’s a curse because Washington is easily the best team in the conference and being guaranteed to play them in the second round doesn’t exactly set the Wildcats up for a deep run.