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Arizona the favorite to win the WNIT?

The Wildcats’ first postseason appearance since 2011 could be a memorable one

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

The Arizona Wildcats women’s basketball team is on track to make its first postseason appearance since 2011, and if one website’s analysis is correct it will be a memorable run.

Omnirankings.com gives the Wildcats the best odds of winning the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), with a 10.2 percent win probability, easily the highest mark. Buffalo is second at 7.7 percent. (Note that these numbers only include teams not projected to make the NCAA Tournament.)

Omnirankings.com projects Arizona will be a No. 2 seed in the WNIT and host New Mexico State, Idaho, Wyoming, and UCF in the first four rounds respectively, before facing Butler and Georgia on the road to cap the tournament.

Should the Wildcats not win the Pac-12 Tournament, they would be considered an automatic qualifier for the WNIT because they are the “highest team in each conference’s standings failing to win conference tournament and not projected to receive NCAA at-large bid.”

Head coach Adia Barnes said earlier in the season that making the postseason, even if it is the WNIT, is really important for the program.

“Because it shows where we’re headed,” she said. “It shows where this program is going compared to where it’s been. We’re talking eight years (since our last postseason appearance). That’s a long time. So I think just showing the momentum and the direction the program is going, I think it’s very important for our future success, not only for recruiting but for the city and our players.

“And speaking personally, when I went to college, we should have made the (NCAA) Tournament the year we didn’t. We made the NIT and then we won the NIT. So that was a huge, pivotal point in the program because after that we were hungry for the (NCAA) Tournament and we ended up being more successful.”

Arizona went 17-12 in the regular season, including a 7-11 record in the ultra-competitive Pac-12, UA’s first winning season since 2011. The Wildcats face USC to open the Pac-12 Tournament Thursday in Las Vegas.

Sophomore point guard Aari McDonald, the nation’s third-leading scorer, was named to the All-Pac-12 Team and All-Pac-12 Defensive Team. Freshman forward Cate Reese made the All-Freshman Team.