Four weeks from today, the 2022 NCAA Tournament begins with the First Four in Dayton. The main 64-team tourney gets underway two days later, and for the first time since 2018 it will involve the Arizona Wildcats.
The UA has been a lock to make the tourney for quite some time, but now that it’s less than a month away it’s time to start looking at what kind of seed the Wildcats figure to get. And it’s looking to be a pretty good one.
BacketMatrix.com, which aggregates projected fields from more than 100 bracketologists, has Arizona as the third-best No. 1 seed behind Gonzaga and Auburn. The Wildcats are listed as a No. 1 seed in 98 of 110 brackets published between Feb. 10 and Monday, with the other 12 putting them as a No. 2 seed.
Arizona (22-2, 12-1 Pac-12) hasn’t been a No. 1 seed since 2014, when it reached the West Region final and lost in overtime to Wisconsin. The Wildcats began that tourney run in San Diego, which is its most likely destination for the first weekend this tourney.
But who would they open against, and in which region would they be placed?
The six teams BracketMatrix has as the most likely No. 16 seeds are Colgate, Longwood, New Orleans, Norfolk State, Southern and UNC-Wilmington, all of which are projected to win their respective 1-bid conference’s tournaments. Projected Patriot League champ Colgate (15-11) is the highest-rated of that group, sitting at No. 138 in KenPom.com and No. 141 in NET., while second-highest is projected Big South champ Longwood (18-6).
Arizona, which is No. 2 in both KenPom and NET, could be in line to face a First Four winner between No. 16 seeds, which it never has before.
As for which region? While being in the West Region would mean playing the second weekend in San Francisco, where there’s a strong UA alumni base, Gonzaga figures to have a stranglehold on that No. 1 seed unless it loses between now and Selection Sunday. Assuming it doesn’t, the South Region is the most likely destination, which means playing in San Antonio after the first weekend.
San Antonio is basically the same distance from San Francisco, so geographically it’s a wash. Much better than Chicago (Midwest) or Philadelphia (East).