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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Will 1 win get the men’s hoops team into the NCAA Tournament?

    PRO: 1 win and they’re in

    The UA men’s basketball team drifted perilously close to the bubble for a program that has gone dancing 23 straight years. But if the Wildcats beat Oregon State in the first round of the Pacific 10 Conference tournament, nobody in Tucson needs to panic.

    Although it would mean Arizona lost eight of 12 games heading into the tournament if it then loses to Stanford, the Wildcats’ No. 31 ranking in the Ratings Percentage Index and No. 2 strength of schedule will be enough to get them in.

    The committee’s job is to pick the 65 most deserving squads, meaning injuries and a team’s health come tourney time plays a factor.

    The biggest stat for Arizona will come to face if the Wildcats beat OSU and lose to Stanford – the team will be 16-6 in games played by guard Jerryd Bayless and Nic Wise, and 3-8 without one of them.

    Of those six losses, four will have come against teams ranked in the top 11, with the other losses being at the beginning of the season against Virginia, when the Wildcats were still coming together and Saturday against Oregon when they were re-adjusting to playing at full strength.

    Arizona has gone 10-11 against teams in the RPI top 100, a huge amount of games against top teams and another factor in the team’s favor.

    Despite the 8-10 Pac-10 Conference record, 13 teams have reached the Big Dance with league records two games under .500.

    The 1998 Florida State team made it despite going 6-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and the 1992 Iowa State squad reached the tournament despite a 5-9 mark in the Big Eight.

    Just last year Arkansas went 7-9 in the Southeastern Conference but still went dancing with the No. 10 strength of schedule and a No. 35 RPI.

    And of course there’s the poster team for this argument, the 2001 Georgia squad that went 16-14 but compiled a No. 27 RPI after playing the nation’s toughest schedule.

    If those teams made it, so will Arizona.

    But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to beat Stanford.

    -Michael Schwartz, senior writer

    CON: Magic number is 20

    So maybe there aren’t 65 teams better than the Arizona basketball team. That still doesn’t mean with just one win in thePacific 10 Conference tournament the Wildcats will get into the 65-team NCAA Tournament field.

    Lute Olson prides his program on 20-win seasons. The Wildcats (18-13) had 20 consecutive 20-win seasons and 23 consecutive NCAA Tournament bids up until this week.

    Should the Wildcats get bounced out in the second round of the Pac-10 Tournament by Stanford on Thursday, those streaks can both be thrown right out the window.

    Based on ESPN and everyone else’s Bracketology systems, Oregon and ASU are either on the bubble or are one of the last four teams to get in the Big Dance.

    Arizona might be out of luck because it was swept by both teams in conference play.

    Maybe the selection committee will have pity on Arizona after injuries to key players like Jerryd Bayless, Nic Wise and Bret Brielmaier affected the team’s depth for most of the season. Maybe it will have pity regarding Arizona having to deal with an unexpected coaching change in November.

    But it would be hard for the selection committee to pick seven Pac-10 teams for the tournament.

    The Wildcats have the No. 31 RPI in the country compared to the Ducks (53) and the Sun Devils (87). The Wildcats have the No. 2 strength of schedule in the country but ASU has wins over highly ranked teams – Xavier and Stanford – and Arizona was 0-6 against teams ranked in the RPI Top 25.

    Arizona also dropped seven of its last 10 conference games to finish under .500, and no Pac-10 team has ever gone dancing with a sub-.500 record. The last team to make the tournament with 14 losses was Georgia in 2001.

    Arizona had home wins over then-top 10 teams like Texas A&M, but the Aggies plummeted in the Big 12 Conference and now find themselves in a similar situation as the Wildcats.

    Without two more wins, the Wildcats might be dancing in McKale Center, but not for the Kanye West concert – the National Invitation Tournament.

    -Mike Ritter, sports editor

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