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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona Wildcats basketball postseason outlook

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat

LOS ANGELES — The Wildcats will be playing somewhere this postseason, they’re just not sure where quite yet. With the loss in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament Championship game, the Arizona men’s basketball team’s chances at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament seemed to float away.

Head coach Sean Miller and the Wildcats don’t seem very optimistic that their name will be called tomorrow during Selection Sunday.

“I’m not saying that we’re not close. We’re not games away,” Miller said. “We’re probably about four plays away, which includes today’s game.”

Senior Brendon Lavender said he was hopeful that Arizona would be selected to be part of the field of 68, but when asked how likely he thought that the Wildcats would make it, the 3-point sharp shooter wasn’t certain.

“Of course the NCAA is the prize, the filling of the cake, but realistically it is what it is . . .” Lavender said.

Most Arizona players just said they wanted to keep playing basketball, regardless of what kind of post season they were involved in.

“If we’re fortunate to get in (to the NCAA Tournament), that’s good,” sophomore guard Jordin Mayes said. “If we’re in the NIT, so be it.”

Here are some updates on the Wildcats’ chances to go make it to the Big Dance:

Bracketology check:

Before Saturday’s championship game was ever even played, ESPN’s Bracketology had the Wildcats as a No. 13 seed taking on Florida State University in Albuquerque. Cal was the only other team to be listed as going to the Big Dance.

An updated look at Joe Lunardi’s analysis has Arizona among the “Next two out,” which is an abbreviated version of the usual “Next four out” category. For what it’s worth, Lundardi predicted 65 out of the correct 68 teams that were selected in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

Lunardi’ on the Pac-12 selection situation: “I think Colorado and Cal that’s it. Washington will be a real test for the committee. We know the history. No power-conference regular season champion has ever been left out.”

Arizona was not mentioned in Lunardi’s video analysis on ESPN.

Chances missed:

CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm had the Wildcats in Portland, Wash., facing off against Georgetown. Arizona was also listed there as a No. 13 seed. Arizona was listed among his “last four in category.” The list has not been updated since Arizona lost in the championship game.

RPI doesn’t quite help:

As of Saturday, the Wildcats have an RPI of 73, which falls behind three Pac-12 teams. California comes in at 36, Oregon is at 64 and Washington is at 69. Colorado is already in the tournament with an RPI of 71.

When you look at the records of the Pac-12 bubble teams, it’s still convoluted:
California: 24-9
Colorado: 23-11
Arizona: 23-11
Oregon: 22-9
Washington: 21-10

Last year’s NIT

Last year, California, Washington State and Colorado made it to the NIT. The Buffaloes and the Cougars made it to the Final Four of the NIT. Washington State went on to lose to eventual champion Wichita State.

It’s been a while:

The last time Arizona made an NIT appearance was during the 1951 season. Although Tucsonans may think the NIT stands for “Never In Tucson,” it’s most likely time that they accept the fate. Miller has indicated that the Wildcats will accept a bid to the NIT.

“The NIT has changed. I don’t think everybody’s up to date with it,” Miller said. “There are 32 teams in that tournament. You don’t get in that tournament because you have sellouts. You get into that tournament because you earn it.”
Arizona NIT appearances: – 1945-1946 – 1949-1950 – 1950-1951

Verdict:

It’s more than likely the Wildcats will see a ticket to the NIT. With the Pac-12 being nationally dismissed by experts, whether their interpretation is wrong or not, and the loss at ASU to end the season, Arizona won’t be asked to dance in March. In reality, the Wildcats are much closer than people think. Six of their losses — to San Diego State, Florida, Oregon, Washington, and twice to Colorado (once in Boulder, once on Saturday) — were decided by a combined 17 points. But the committee looks at wins and losses, and that will seal Arizona’s fate as part of the 2012 NIT.

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