Six weeks from now, Arizona will be preparing for its NCAA Tournament opener. This much is certain, as the Wildcats are a lock to make a third consecutive tourney in as many years under Tommy Lloyd.
What their seed is, and the path in front of them to try and get to that elusive Final Four—which is in the Phoenix area!—has a lot more uncertainty to it. But by and large, signs point to the UA having the chance to stay out west as long as they’re alive.
Arizona’s average projected seed is 1.97, according to 86 brackets tallied on BracketProject.com. That’s tied for the best of the No. 2 seeds, which makes it very likely the Wildcats will end up in the West Region and play the first weekend in either Salt Lake City (most likely) or Spokane.
In fact, the latest projections from ESPN, CBS and Bleacher Report all have the UA opening in Salt Lake City as the West No. 2 seed. ESPN and CBS have the Wildcats opening against 15th-seeded Eastern Washington, while B/R has them facing No. 15 Drexel.
Other potential No. 15 seeds, per BracketProject, include High Point, Oakland, Quinnipiac and Colgate, though since Arizona already played Colgate that wouldn’t be a repeat matchup.
Of the brackets that have been updated since the weekend, a few have Arizona getting a No. 1 seed. The case for that could be solidified this weekend with a road sweep of Utah and Colorado, while losses to one or both of them could push the Wildcats closer to being considered for a No. 3 seed.
But considering the lack of quality NCAA tourney teams in the western part of the country, Arizona would have to all but collapse down the stretch not to at least start close to home. BYU, with an average seed of 5.1, is the next-best western team, followed by San Diego State (5.31), Utah State (5.84) and Colorado State (6.9).
Arizona remains No. 4 in the NET rankings, with an 8-4 record against Quad 1 and 2 teams including six Quad 1 wins. Utah (34th in NET) and Colorado (29th) provide the last two Quad 1 opportunities as of now, though the Feb. 22 home game against Washington State could become one if the Cougars can climb up from 40th.