Time to reserve some rooms in San Antonio?
The Arizona Wildcats are projected to be the No. 1 seed in the South Region for the 2022 NCAA Tournament, the selection committee announced Saturday on CBS. They are considered the No. 3 overall seed, behind Gonzaga (West Region) and Auburn (Midwest) and ahead of Kansas (East).
The South Region has its Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, home of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio is where the Midwest Regional was held in 2001, when the Wildcats went through their on their way to their last Final Four (and the national championship game).
It’s also where the Arizona women’s basketball team reached the title game last April.
The UA (24-2, 13-1 Pac-12) has not been a No. 1 seed since 2014, when it was the top seed in the West Region but lost to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight.
Gonzaga figures to have a firm grasp of the top spot in the West Region, which will have its Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in San Francisco. While that might be the more desirable location for the Wildcats and their fans, San Antonio is roughly the same driving distance from Tucson.
The other projected seeds in the South Region announced Saturday are Baylor (No. 5 overall), Tennessee (No. 11) and Providence (No. 15). Baylor, the defending national champions, include former UA guard James Akinjo and is where Arizona assistant coach Rem Bakamus was on staff last season, while Tennessee handed the Wildcats their first loss in December.
CBS’s Jerry Palm has the UA opening the 2022 NCAA tourney against Norfolk State, the projected MEAC champion in San Diego. The Wildcats would then face either TCU or San Francisco in the second round, with a potential matchup against Providence or Ohio State in the Sweet 16.
While these projected seeds aren’t binding, history shows being at or near the top is a good indicator of future tourney success. Per CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander, since the NCAA selection committee began putting out seed projections in 2017, 12 of the 16 teams listed as No. 1 seeds in February ended up being on the top lines in March and three of them went on to win the national title.
Arizona can move closer to its first Pac-12 regular-season title since 2018 when it hosts Oregon (17-9, 10-5) on Saturday night. The Wildcats have lost seven in a row to the Ducks.