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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Tournament Buzz

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets University of California in an NCAA mens basketball game at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 31, 2010. California up 34-32 at the half.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets University of California in an NCAA men’s basketball game at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 31, 2010. California up 34-32 at the half.

One day after Sean Miller extinguished questions about the Wildcats’ postseason chances, a bigger buzz surrounded the NCAA Tournament’s possible expansion to 96 teams.

Following Arizona’s 76-72 win against California on Sunday, Miller was asked how claiming first place in the Pacific 10 Conference and its four-game winning streak would affect extending The Streak of 25 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

Miller avoided those recurring questions just as he has done since his arrival.

“”I’m not even going to go that direction right now and stay true to what I’ve said,”” Miller said. “”But I will talk a lot about our schedule because one thing that we get the dividends (from) is so many good teams we’ve played have really toughened our team for the Pac-10.””

The Wildcats (12-9, 6-3 Pac-10) appeared in their first edition of ESPN’s “”Bracketology”” Monday, projected as a No. 12 seed in the Midwest region against No. 5 Pittsburgh.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi picked Arizona to win the Pac-10 with an automatic bid — the conference’s only bid.

“”Chances are, there could be only one Pac-10 team included in the field when the dust settles,”” Lunardi wrote. “”And it’s a shame the NCAA probably won’t have the guts to make the Pac-10 champion participate in the NCAA opening-round game in Dayton, Ohio.

“”That’s how lousy the league has been this season.””

This season’s push to extend the coveted streak might be the toughest to date for the program — but it could get real easy, real soon.

Speculation picked up Monday when a report stated the NCAA is considering expansion.

The Sports Business Journal reported the NCAA could part ways with CBS — an 11-year, $6 billion deal that contains an opt-out clause after April’s Final Four. 

The NCAA’s National Invitational Tournament also expires after this season, which would allow the NCAA Tournament to take 31 of those 32 teams, according to the report.

While an unsourced Internet report said the NCAA already has a “”done deal”” with ESPN, NCAA senior vice president Greg Shaheen denied the report but acknowledged talks.

“”Nothing is a done deal,”” Shaheen told FOXSports.com on Monday. “”We’re talking with parties who have interest.””

Illinois coach Bruce Weber supported discussions of NCAA Tournament expansion for reasons similar to the pressure Miller faces at Arizona.

“”Selfishly, I think as a coaching profession, there’s so much pressure on you to get into the tournament, if you don’t get in, you’re a failure,”” Weber told The Chicago Tribune. “”So, I think it would help keep jobs, it would maybe stabilize some programs, so I am definitely for it. I think most of our coaching profession is.

“”One of the greatest experiences any student-athlete can do is to be part of the NCAA tournament, so wouldn’t you want more kids involved in it?”” Weber added.

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