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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA men’s hoops team to receive reality check

    All Madden

    Members of the Arizona men’s basketball team, welcome to the most dramatic reality show of your young lives.

    “”So You Think You Can Dance?”” Well then, welcome to the Big Dance.

    No, you haven’t yet made it to the NCAA Tournament for the 25th consecutive season, but for your program – heck, for all of Tucson – the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament is the NCAA Tournament.

    Scratch that. It’s bigger.

    Today marks the beginning of a 10-team men’s basketball showdown that is, for you, equivalent to the 65-team battle we call the Big Dance. It’s the “”Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.””

    The comparison between the two tournaments is simple: win or go home. You don’t have to be the last “”Survivor”” standing in the Pac-10 Tournement like in the “”Amazing Race”” we call the NCAA Tournement, but you’ve got to get past the first game in this “”Dog Eat Dog”” contest.

    Hate to be so blunt, Wildcats, but this is the “”Real World.”” With your the-next-game-is-the-biggest-game-of-the-season attitude, you know what I’m saying. You don’t want to be “”The Biggest Loser.””

    And unless you beat No. 23 ASU on Thursday afternoon in Staples Center, many will see the season as a lost one – God forbid you suffer a “”Blow Out.”” Sorry, that’s just the way it is. Folks around here are spoiled by your team’s tradition of winning. You just have to face the fact that you have one of “”America’s Toughest Jobs.””

    When teams play in the NCAA Tournament, a loss means they’re done playing. That’s it. Pack your bags and “”Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush”” in the hotel room.

    But when you take on the Sun Devils, your adrenaline will be pumping. As you “”Fight For Fame,”” your blood will be hot and you just might sweat a little bit before tipoff. You’ll be in “”Hell’s Kitchen”” without even knowing it.

    But you do know if you allow the Sun Devils to beat you for the third time this season, you’ll be sent home to prepare for the first round of the NIT Tournament in McKale Center. No NCAA Tournament, no continuation of the 25-year streak, no chances of a “”Super Sweet 16.””

    You will have just been “”Punk’d.””

    Sorry, but “”America’s Got Talent.”” Lots of it, starting with your foes in Tempe.

    And you thought “”American Idol”” David Bagga’s phenomenonal 3-pointer last Saturday was a fairy-tale ending to his legacy in Tucson. Can you imagine how weird it would be if that wasn’t Arizona’s last game in the “”House”” that Lute built this season? After setting record numbers for attendance in McKale last week, there will be so many empty seats that you’ll think you’ve received an “”Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.””

    It’s not that Tucson fans are totally bandwagon fans, but they do somewhat resemble Simon Cowell. If you’re not that good, they don’t want to see you. You’d have to “”Beg, Borrow and Deal”” your way back into their good graces.

    Simply stated: You need to win this game more than Chris Brown needs counseling classes.

    ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has you guys pegged as a No. 12 seed in the Midwest region. Yep, you’re the last team picked to receive an at-large bid.

    I would think a “”Fear Factor”” would be consistent throughout your team, but of course you’re not worried about that. You’ll let your game speak for itself.

    “”That’s all we can control,”” said point guard Nic Wise. “”We’ll let the bracketology people do their jobs, and we’ll do ours.””

    The “”True Beauty”” is that you’re right, Nic. As long as your team is “”Wickedly Perfect,”” Arizona’s Tournament chances will only rise. The “”Worst-Case Scenario”” if you keep winning is that you never lose.

    Olson’s “”Apprentice,”” Russ Pennell, agreed: “”If we keep winning, they can’t keep us out.””

    Yep, those are generally the “”Road Rules”” of the Tournament.

    Sorry, now I’m just being a “”Jackass.””

    But really, in order to be “”Made”” into one of the nation’s 65 NCAA Tournament teams, you have to contain Pac-10 Player of the Year James Harden, who is not just an “”Average Joe.”” He is ASU’s “”Deadliest Catch”” since Eddie House.

    The Sun Devil’s other “”Wildboyz”” – Jeff Pendergraph, Derek Glasser and Jerren Shipp – must also be handled.

    Oh, no. Getting into the Big Dance won’t be like an easy day lounging on “”Laguna Beach.”” Starting Thursday at noon, you’re “”Dancing with the Stars.””

    Welcome to the most dramatic reality show of your young lives.

    – Lance Madden is a journalism junior. He can be reached at

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