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Roundtable: March Madness, how far can Arizona’s basketball teams go?

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Nathanial Stenchever

University of Arizona is set to host the first and second round basketball games for the women’s March Madness bracket. University of North Carolina vs. Stephen F. Austin State University and University of Arizona vs. University of Nevada, Las Vegas games will be played in McKale Center on March 19.

As March Madness approaches, Wildcat fans eagerly await the performances of their Arizona men’s and women’s basketball teams in this year’s tournament. The first round of the men’s tournament is scheduled to begin on Thursday, March 21, and Friday, March 22, while the men’s NCAA Championships will take place on Monday, April 8, in State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

For the women’s tournament, the first round kicks off on Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, with the women’s NCAA Championships scheduled for Sunday, April 7, in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio.

Reflecting on last year’s performances, the No. 2 seed Arizona men’s team faced a disappointing exit in the first round, falling to the No. 15 seed Princeton University, while the women’s team also bowed out in the second round after a valiant effort against the University of Maryland.

With both teams hungry for redemption and determined to make a deeper run in this year’s tournament, the stage is set for an exciting March Madness. As anticipation builds and speculation abounds, let’s take a look at the predictions from the Daily Wildcat’s sports desk on what lies ahead for both teams.

Jason Dayee 

I believe this year’s men’s basketball team’s ceiling is the Elite Eight while its floor is a Sweet 16. First, this year’s men’s basketball team is a completely revamped group with several new additions. This collection of guys has been one of the best teams in the nation all season long despite tough losses they faced throughout the season, most of which came against ranked opponents or tough conference rivals.

The men’s basketball team has remained a beacon of consistency with depth at each position and talent galore. Then leading this group is Tommy Lloyd, whose resume speaks for itself. I’m sure he, along with the rest of his team, will want to wash out their most recent defeat in the Pac-12 Tournament from the minds of Arizona fans and also last year’s team’s early exit in the NCAA Tournament by making a deep run this year.

As for the women’s team, led by Adia Barnes, this season has been a long one filled with as many ups as downs. Despite it all, her team made it in, and one thing this team is known for is its resilience. However, I do not think it will be enough to make it any farther than it did last season, given the lack of depth and overall talent compared to the teams they will be facing in its region. That’s why I believe the team is going to be capped as a second-round exit once again, leaving in the same round it did last year, the Round of 32.

Nathaniel Levin

I believe the Wildcats are capable of reaching their first Final Four since 2001, but they will need to play complete basketball and avoid the recent shooting struggles that plagued them down the stretch. Arizona was gifted with a favorable path to the Final Four and is backed by a wave of motivation after last year’s shocking upset loss to Princeton in the Round of 64.

Led by one of the best offenses in the country and four seniors who bring a ton of experience to the floor, the Wildcats have the building blocks to win a National Championship. I believe if Arizona plays its style of basketball, it will reach the Final Four, but if it struggles or faces a team that likes a slower tempo, then it may reach no further than the second weekend.

Barnes and the women’s basketball team opened the 2024 calendar year, losing five of six and were hovering just above .500 at 10-9. However, Barnes and the Wildcats finished the season strong, knocking off No. 3 Stanford University on the road and narrowly knocking off No. 3 USC twice, losing by a combined 5 points. Arizona also collected big wins over fellow bubble teams the University of California, Berkeley, Washington State University and the University of Washington twice to bolster its resume down the stretch and secure a spot in the tournament. Despite this, I believe that Arizona may struggle to advance beyond the Round of 32 due to its lack of depth and the challenge of playing three games in five days.

Melisa Guzeloglu

With the transfer of former University of North Carolina Tarheel, Caleb Love, as well as developed veterans and a youthful bench, it’s my belief that Arizona can make a deep run moving into March Madness, especially if it sticks to its fundamentals. A set core of starters including multiple Pac-12 All-Conference honorees have proved their ability to remain consistent and lively, even at the expense of difficult losses or relieving wins. With head coach Lloyd leading the way, Arizona has impressed with its ability to score, creating plays on both ends of the floor and having multiple players capable of doing so at a high level, leading to its 25-8 season record.

Stepping into the NCAA Tournament, memories from last year’s defeat to Princeton has since provided optimism that the Wildcats may go farther, reaching the Sweet 16, and allowed anticipation to build that they have the chance to go even farther. To push past original hopes and reach the Elite Eight, Arizona will have to come up with a game plan in order to attest its willingness to win.

Turning over to the women’s basketball team, who has had a season including woes and hardships but fought its way in to claim a spot as the No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Arizona has the chance to make it past Auburn University and through the First Four. Led by head coach Barnes, Arizona’s tenacity has helped secure ranked wins and overcome the challenges it was faced with throughout the season like injuries, which led to the absence of scoring and consistency.

The Wildcats will need to quickly adapt in order to make it past the Round of 32, where they will be met with challenging teams who will only see Arizona as the next obstacle they must overcome to become that much closer to being National Champions.

Grace Carnal

With a rough ending to last year’s season for the men’s team, the Wildcat community is hoping for a longer stretch this year. I believe both teams will put their all in, knowing that next year a good amount of seniors will be graduating. With so much talent on both teams, I would love to see both make it far. The women’s basketball team might have a bumpier road, since they will only have eight players for this tournament. However, I believe they will beat Auburn, but end the road in the second round.

If the men’s team can execute on both ends of the court and keep up on defense even if it isn’t a close game, I see them making it to the Elite 8. Especially coming off its tough loss to the University of Oregon in the semi-finals of the Pac-12 Tournament, I hope that it will give the men’s team motivation to prove that it can make it far in this tournament. Overall, I would love to see a championship for both teams but I don’t think this is the year.

Kayla Lowery

Following last year’s loss to Princeton in the first round, I feel optimistic going into this year’s March Madness Tournament. I feel as though the men’s basketball team’s chemistry this year will be extremely strong as it goes into the postseason with a 25-8 record. My prediction is that the Wildcats will fight for a position in the Final Four with the support of Arizona fans as it plays in Phoenix. The starting lineup for Arizona will need to put in work and stay consistent in order to achieve this as Love has been in a bit of a slump coming off the regular season and is much needed in order to take home the victory.

For the women’s basketball team, I predict it will make it through the First Four against Auburn, winning 68-62. If the Wildcats can improve their 3-point shooting, I believe they will have a real shot at advancing deep through the tournament.

Reed Lofstedt

The men’s basketball team is certainly in an interesting position, the same seeding position that saw it fall to Princeton last year. However, our opponent isn’t one to hastily look past. Long Beach State University fired its coach before its conference tournament victory, yet the Sharks entered the tournament with nothing to lose. And I think that team will enter the game with high emotions, a play style Arizona will certainly need to match.

If the men’s team defeats Long Beach State, I could see it going on a potential run. I think Arizona could beat either University of Nevada, Reno or the University of Dayton, however, Nevada would certainly push the Wildcats hard. If they win their matchups, the potential opponents of New Mexico State University or Baylor University could present more difficulties. I think if the men’s team is able to stay within itself and perform as the best team it possibly can, it will have a serious chance to make some real noise on a deep run in this year’s tournament.

The women’s team however is in an opposite position, fighting for a play-in slot to face No. 6 Syracuse University. However, on its way is a strong Auburn team with a streak of victories. I think if the women beat Auburn, they have the potential to beat Syracuse. Even with a win against the Tigers, I think the Round of 32 is the farthest the team will go.

Kyle Kersey

A few weeks ago, one of my professors expressed concern about the Arizona men’s basketball team following its home loss to ranked Washington State University. “Are we any good?” the professor asked about a team that’s now the No. 2 seed in the West. As a longtime Minnesota fan (go Gophers), y’all don’t know how good you have it.

Yes, the Wildcats were bounced in the first round by Princeton last year and yes, they’ve yet to go on a run with Lloyd at the helm. But take a deep breath, Wildcat fans, good fortune lies ahead. This team is making it to the Sweet 16 with the potential to go even further.

I’m less bullish on the women’s team. While I love what Barnes has done for the program, I can’t see it making it past the Round of 32 as a No. 11 seed.


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