The Arizona Wildcats return home this week, desperately needing to return to the win column when they host the Utah Utes and No. 20 Colorado Buffaloes.
Arizona has lost four of its last five, falling to 11-5 and 1-2 in the Pac-12 after a 9-0 start. The Wildcats are unranked for the first time this season, and some fans are even questioning if they will make the NCAA Tournament.
So, before Thursday’s home game against Utah, which you can buy tickets on StubHub for, let’s take a look at the Wildcats’ résumé.
How they rank
NET: 18 (the NCAA’s official metric)
ESPN BPI: 10
AP poll: Receiving votes
Coaches poll: Receiving votes
Only one quality win
So far, Arizona’s only quality win is the 90-69 blowout of Illinois on Nov. 10 in Tucson. The Fighting Illini have done their part to make that victory look even better, winning three straight to jump into the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in Brad Underwood’s coaching tenure.
Arizona otherwise only has two wins over KenPom Top 100 teams—New Mexico State and Arizona State, who are barely in the Top 100.
An array of losses
One thing Arizona could at least hang its hat on early in the season is that it avoided bad losses. The Wildcats started 10-2, those defeats coming against Baylor (on the road) and Gonzaga (at home), two top-5 teams. The fourth loss was on the road in overtime against No. 9 Oregon.
However, Arizona has lost to St. John’s (on a neutral court) and now Oregon State on the road (by 17, no less). St. John’s is No. 80 in KenPom’s ratings; the Beavers are 58th. Neither is likely to be an NCAA Tournament team.
In all, the Wildcats are 0-4 in Quadrant 1 games, 2-1 in Quadrant 2 games, and 9-0 in Quadrant 3 and 4 games.
Basically, Arizona has only beaten who it’s supposed to beat, while also dropping a pair of games it probably should have won.
Not many big games remaining
Arizona has had the 11th-toughest schedule in the country if you only take into account opponent winning percentage. KenPom, which factors in other things like the offensive and deficiency efficiencies of its opponents, says UA has the 49th-toughest schedule.
Either way, the rest of the regular-season slate doesn’t give the Wildcats many opportunities to pad their résumé. They only have two games left against ranked teams, and five games against KenPom Top 50 teams.
- vs. Colorado (24) on Jan. 18
- at Washington (44) on Jan. 30
- at Stanford (41) on Feb. 15
- vs. Oregon (17) on Feb. 22
- vs. Washington (44) on March 7
Remember, Arizona only plays Stanford and Colorado once this season because of the Pac-12’s imbalanced conference schedule. That could help, or hurt, down the road depending how you look it.
Conversely, that means Arizona has 10 games left against teams outside KenPom’s Top 50, including six against teams outside the Top 100, putting them at risk of racking up more so-called “bad losses.”
What do NCAA Tournament projections say?
While Arizona is not currently in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament, its chance of earning a high seed is continually shrinking.
Here’s where the Wildcats stand in some of the latest bracket projections:
- ESPN — a No. 6 seed in the South region (vs. No. 11 Liberty)
- SB Nation — a No. 8 seed in the Midwest region (vs. No. 9 BYU)
- CBS — a No. 9 seed in the Midwest region (vs. No. 8 Indiana)
- NCAA.com — a No. 7 seed in the South region (vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech)
- TeamRankings.com — a No. 4 seed
BracketMatrix.com, which compiles a bunch of brackets including the ones listed above, says the Wildcats currently average out to a No. 6 seed.