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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pro/Con: Does men’s hoops need a sweep to make the NCAA Tourney?

    Pro/Con

    PRO: Sweep likely needed for at-large bid, Bryan Roy

    Not that the Wildcats haven’t rattled off a surmountable winning streak already – they won seven games in a row at one point this season – but to recreate something like that in a win-or-go-home ultimatum: it’s too much pressure.

    In order to avoid the harsh reality of either winning the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament or kissing the season goodbye, the Wildcats need to sweep this weekend not only to reach the 20-win plateau, but give UA a realistic shot at an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.

    Here they are: two games left, and two wins away from the big, ol’ magical 20-win plateau.

    Two home games that is, which doesn’t make a sweep over the Bay Area schools seem too unrealistic.

    A sweep guarantees Arizona a winning conference record (10-8), which would give the Tournament Selection Committee just another bright spot on its résumé.

    They’ve already got the quality wins (Gonzaga, Kansas, UCLA and Washington), a decent RPI (No. 47) and better Strength of Schedule (No. 34).

    At this point in the season, the only thing that could set Arizona apart from an incredibly crowded group of 18- and 19-win teams: more wins.

    Like last year, there’s a slew of teams on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble with more wins than the Wildcats.

    ESPN.com’s bracketology currently projects the Wildcats to be team No. 65 out of 65 in the NCAA Tournament after all the automatic bids, meaning, there’s literally nowhere for the Wildcats to slip: they’re the last guys in “”the dance””.

    On the doorstep, meet the Florida Gators: A team 21-8 overall and 8-6 in the (relatively weak) SEC.

    There’s no way Florida gets snubbed with 21-plus wins to an Arizona team with 19 – not those Gators with an RPI at No. 50 and a quality win over Washington.

    But why can’t the Wildcats just win the Pac-10 Tournament for an automatic bid? They’ve pretty much beaten everybody else, right?

    That’s only half the story. Arizona has also lost to pretty much everybody else, too, making the field very dangerous to a team forced to win out in order to keep its season going.

    Remember: The Pac-10 Tournament is held in Los Angeles. Meaning, not Tucson. Meaning, the Wildcats are 5-9 away from home this season.

    It’s all about protecting home court. And if the Wildcats can’t do that this weekend, they may find themselves back in McKale hosting the first round of an NIT Tournament game.


    CON: There’s always the Pac-10 Tournament, Lance Madden

    You can paint a black house white without a primer coat, but it will take a lot longer to finish. In the long run, though, you’ll still get the job done.

    Likewise, if the Arizona men’s basketball team doesn’t win both of its games this weekend, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Wildcats are going to miss out on their 25th straight NCAA Tournament.

    No, this isn’t a do-or-die weekend for the Arizona men’s basketball program.

    Would the Wildcats like to end the regular season on a good note and sweep the Bay Area schools? Sure. But will all hope be lost if Arizona doesn’t beat both California and Stanford? Not quite.

    The beauty of the end of the season is that it’s not really the end. The Pacific 10 Conference is a stage of purgatory between the regular season and an exciting afterlife called the postseason. It’s like an extra credit opportunity for teams that need one last push toward excellence.

    The Georgia Bulldogs definitely grasped this concept last season when they finished the regular season off 13-16, then turned around and won the Southeastern Conference Tournament, earning a spot into the NCAA Tournament.

    With 18 wins right now, the Wildcats could win the rest of their games and have 24 wins heading into the Big Dance. Even if they were swept by the Bay Area teams, they’d have a chance to rack up as many as 22 total wins before Selection Sunday.

    UA interim head coach Russ Pennell has already grasped this concept.

    “”You never know what’s going to happen in the Pac-10 Tournament, and (I’m) not even saying win the Pac-10 Tournament,”” he said. “”You go there and play well and win a couple games … I think we need to get a couple more wins, but I don’t think we have to go and say, ‘It’s all or nothing right now.'””

    The best thing for the Wildcats to do is win their final two home games and make a run in the Pac-10 Tournament. But if the Golden Bears and/or the Cardinal ruin that, there’s plenty of paint left in the bucket.

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