But for the first time, those fans will need to show up from the start instead of getting the first day of the tourney for sightseeing and sunbathing.
Arizona (17-14, 8-10) will be the No. 9 seed in the Pac-12 tourney, and thus play in Wednesday’s first round for the first time since 2008. The Wildcats will take on No. 8 USC (15-16, 8-10) at 12 p.m. PT (reminder: Arizona moves to Pacific time on Sunday) in the opening game at T-Mobile Arena.
It will be a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 final, which Arizona won 75-61
This is the first time Arizona is playing in the opening round since 2008, when it was the No. 7 seed and only the bottom four teams in the then-Pac-10 had to do so.
The Wildcats finished in a three-way tie for eighth place with USC and Stanford (15-15, 8-10) but the Trojans get the No. 8 seed by virtue of their 80-57 win over Arizona in Los Angeles on Jan. 24.
Arizona played that game without junior forward Chase Jeter, who sat out with a back injury. The Wildcats shot a season-low 27.8 percent, going 5 for 25 from three-point range while USC’s Nick Rakocevic had 27 points (on 13-of-17 shooting) with 12 rebounds, at the start of a seven-game losing streak.
“We really struggled to score,” said UA coach Sean Miller. “They’re going to play 2-3 zone and I think they have two or three players on their team that are really, really good. Bennie Boatwright is outstanding. Rakocevic is one of the most improved players in our conference. Those guys, they play with a lot of confidence. We’re not there yet but obviously we would have to attack their zone and be successful on that end for us to be able to beat them.”
A win Wednesday means Arizona would then face regular-season champion Washington in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats lost 67-60 at home to the Huskies on Feb. 7, this time playing without freshman guard Brandon Williams, and committed a season-high 20 turnovers.
The No. 1 seed hasn’t lost in the quarterfinals since 2012, when Washington was upset by No. 9 Oregon State. It also happened in 2007, 2003 and 1990, with the middle of those instances being when Arizona was shocked by No. 8 UCLA.