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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Team to hold breath ’til Sunday

    Arizonas Jerryd Bayless is fouled by Stanford forward Brook Lopez (left) and center Taj Finger in the second half of the Wildcats 75-64 defeat last night at the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles.
    Arizona’s Jerryd Bayless is fouled by Stanford forward Brook Lopez (left) and center Taj Finger in the second half of the Wildcats’ 75-64 defeat last night at the Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament in Los Angeles.

    LOS ANGELES – Every year CBS sends camera crews out to bubble campuses around the nation to watch either their elation of earning a bid or the disappointment of falling just short.

    Normally, they’re at quality mid-majors such as Kent State and Virginia Commonwealth or mediocre majors such as Florida State and Iowa State.

    This year it’s too bad Arizona likely won’t let cameras into their viewing party – local media isn’t even invited – as the drama should be better than anything CBS has on its primetime lineup.

    The UA men’s basketball team will watch the Selection Sunday show with more sweaty palms as anybody in the program ever has had through the last 23 straight years of making the NCAA Tournament, as at this point there’s nothing the Wildcats can do to strengthen their case to make it a 24th straight season.

    “”It’s kind of scary,”” said UA forward Chase Budinger.

    Added guard Jawann McClellan, “”It’s not a good feeling, but it’s where we’re at.””

    If the team gets in it would seem odd for them to celebrate something that used to be as common in Tucson as hot summer days, whereas a snub would likely make for a worse environment then the locker room after being swept by ASU.

    Arizona won 18 Division I games and lost 14, while compiling an 8-10 mark in the conference, bowing out in the quarterfinals of the league tourney.

    The Wildcats entered the day with the No. 34 Ratings Percentage Index and No. 2 strength of schedule, but the biggest thing going in their favor is that they went 16-6 when guards Jerryd Bayless and Nic Wise were both healthy, with four of those losses against top 11 teams.

    “”I’d be surprised if we’re not in with our nonconference schedule and top-30 RPI,”” said UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill. “”We have the resume to be there, we deserve to be there I think, we let our playing do our talking, and now we’re going to let the committee make their decision on if we’re in and where we play.””

    On the flip side,

    We have the resume to be there, we deserve to be there I think, we let our playing do our talking, and now we’re going to let the committee make their decision on if we’re in and where we play.

    – Kevin O’Neill,
    interim head coach

    the team went 4-9 down the stretch with two of those wins coming against Oregon State.

    Still, the Wildcats did what they needed to but nothing more on their trip to Los Angeles in a week that resembled last week’s visit to Oregon.

    Arizona beat an Oregon State squad in dominant fashion, teasing UA fans that a similar effort against a good team would also to lead to a win.

    Then after leading throughout the first half last week at Oregon and this week against Stanford, the team fell apart in the second half, with forward Jordan Hill even saying his team gave up “”a little bit”” at the end.

    ESPN.com put Arizona in the category of a bubble team in relatively good shape at the beginning of the day and the Wildcats will no doubt be helped by the fact fellow Pacific 10 Conference bubble teams ASU and Oregon both lost, putting all of them in the same category as far as the their NCAA Tournament hopes go.

    “”We just have to wait and see,”” McClellan said. “”A lot of bubble teams went down today, so I guess that’s a positive thing.””

    In leading throughout the first half against a team that ran through conference play, the Wildcats (once again) showed they could play with the top teams in the nation. O’Neill said he thinks his squad will be better playing outside of the conference as many league teams have figured Arizona out, particularly in terms of limiting Bayless.

    “”We just want to be in it, that’s all,”” Hill said. “”We just want to be in it. We think we can make a huge run, but until then we’ve just got to wait ’til Sunday to see what’s up.””

    Until then the Wildcats will have no choice but to hold their breath, hoping their tough schedule outweighs their inconsistent season.

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