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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wildcats await fate on Selection Sunday

    Tyler Baker

    Kaleb Tarczewski watches the ball roll out of bounds during Arizona’s 95-89 OT loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinal in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Friday, March 11.

    LAS VEGAS — After Arizona dropped their Pac-12 Tournament semifinal matchup to Oregon in OT on Friday night, all eyes will now turn towards Selection Sunday.

    Bracketologist Joe Lunardi of ESPN has the Wildcats as a five seed in his most recent projections. He predicts the Wildcats will play 12-seeded Northern Iowa in Providence in the South bracket.

    If this prediction holds true, Arizona could end up facing the fourth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the Round of 32. Virginia would be the one seed, Oklahoma would be the two and Kentucky would own the three seed to round out the top five in the South.

    “I believe that Oregon is right there to be a one or a two seed,” head coach Sean Miller said after Friday’s loss. “They’re certainly one of college basketball’s best teams. To me, why they’re so good is because of how together they are.”

    Lunardi predicts the Pac-12 Conference will have seven teams represented in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

    “I’m proud to be a part of our conference this year,” Miller said. “I don’t think we take a backseat to any and I think we’re going to have a ton of teams in the NCAA Tournament. Whoever enters this year’s NCAA Tournament from the Pac-12 is capable of winning a couple of games.”

    Read: Mark Tollefsen’s late-game heroics shouldn’t be overshadowed by missed free throw in Pac-12 semifinal.

    RPI will be one of the biggest factors the selection committee will take into account come Sunday. This measures a team’s strength of schedule and how they fared against those opponents. 

    The Wildcats are 5-7 when they played teams in the RPI top 50. Arizona’s biggest RPI victory was over California, whose own RPI is No. 16. Not a bad mark, but certainly not the best either.

    Arizona’s RPI is No. 25. The Wildcats are 25-8 overall, an impressive feat for a team that lost four of its five seniors from an Elite Eight team a year ago. Five of the eight losses have come on the road, two on neutral sites and one at home. The average loss for the Wildcats is about five points per game.

    Arizona’s worst loss was at UCLA, but the rest of its losses have been against teams who are also predicted to play in the NCAA Tournament. This is important because the Wildcats haven’t been losing to bad teams and they aren’t getting blown out either.

    Oregon’s RPI is third and Utah’s is seventh. The Ducks beat Arizona twice and the Utes won their lone matchup. Had the Wildcats beaten these teams during the season, they would be in talks for maybe a two or three seed.

    The biggest knock against the Wildcats will be their own strength of schedule, which is ranked 102 in the nation. This is due to the fact that Arizona’s non-conference schedule was incredibly weak.

    Six of its early-season games were against teams with an RPI ranking of 200 or worse. So while it stomped over weak teams regularly, Arizona struggled to finish the job against tougher conference opponents.

    Read: Where will Pac-12’s tournament teams end up after Selection Sunday?

    These factors, along with Arizona’s finish in the Pac-12 Tournament, are what the committee will take a look at when it comes to placing the Wildcats in this year’s tournament. 

    A five seed seems fitting for how the Wildcats finished. The four to six seed range could be where we see the Wildcats placed, but fate is now out of their hands as the rest of the nation’s conference tournaments finish up.

    Selection Sunday will be broadcasted on CBS and at 3:30 p.m. Keep an eye out to see where the Wildcats will begin their dance in this year’s tournament.

    “Hopefully they’ll be at their best and we’ll be ready to go,” Miller said Friday night. “We’re excited and looking forward to it. As disappointing as it is now, I’m anxious to get to Sunday to see who we’re going to play and where we’re going.”

    Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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