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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Will the Arizona men’s basketball team reach the NCAA Tournament with an 8-10 Pac-10 record?

    PRO: Eight Pac-10 wins will be enough for ‘Cats

    The Arizona men’s basketball team knows what splitting its final four games to finish .500 in the brutal Pacific 10 Conference would mean.

    “”The main thing is you want to be .500 or better in the league so you can assure yourself you get into the Tournament,”” said guard Jawann McClellan.

    By doing that the Wildcats would be able to watch the Selection Sunday show just to find out where they’ll be packing their bags for in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

    If they just beat Oregon State and lose their other three games, there could be some sweaty palms while seeing if the program’s streak of consecutive tourney appearances will be extended to 24.

    But the team should not worry too much, because even though no Pac-10 team has ever reached the Field of 65 with a .500 conference mark, Arizona’s résumé is too strong to be denied.

    As things stand, the Wildcats’ No. 1-ranked strength of schedule gives them the nation’s No. 16 Ratings Percentage Index, with five (and a sixth under this scenario) losses coming against the AP Poll’s top-eight teams. No other squad with 10 losses ranks among the RPI’s top 47 teams, so that schedule will give Arizona some breathing room.

    Also, an 8-10 record would most likely drop the Wildcats into a first-round game in the Pac-10 Tournament against a team it should be able to boost its résumé against and provide momentum going into another league tourney game. It would play against a team it could very possibly upset like Stanford, especially with guard Nic Wise and forward Bret Brielmaier likely to return.

    Speaking of Wise and Brielmaier, the committee takes injuries into account.

    Would Arizona have gone 4-9 under this scenario in the games Wise and guard Jerryd Bayless missed when at full strength the team went 14-4, with three of those losses coming at No. 4 UCLA, No. 6 Kansas and No. 8 Stanford? I certainly don’t think so, and neither will the Committee.

    The Wildcats boast quality wins in both Washington State games, the USC road game and the California sweep, not to mention nonconference road wins at Nevada-Las Vegas (No. 32 RPI) and Houston (No. 63) and home victories over Texas A&M (No. 47) and San Diego State (No. 67).

    Although the Wildcats would be best-served to finish strong for seeding purposes, just one more win and they’re in.

    Michael Schwartz, sports writer

    Not a snowball’s chance in hell

    If the men’s basketball team finishes the Pacific 10 Conference season with an 8-10 conference record it will not be deserving of a spot in the NCAA Tournament, much less make it. The Wildcats’ season will be set in stone after the Oregon State game, as it is the one game they must win. After all, the Beavers are currently winless in conference play, and if Arizona wins one of its other three remaining games, and then loses to OSU, that will be the ultimate embarrassment of the season. So assuming Arizona loses to USC, No. 4 UCLA and Oregon, that itself should be the nail in the coffin.

    Although there is certainly no shame in being swept by the Bruins, Arizona would have been swept by Oregon and ASU as well.

    While they have the toughest strength of schedule in the nation, having played at No. 2 Memphis, at No. 6 Kansas, and No. 8 Stanford and UCLA twice, they would have accumulated a grand total of zero wins against those teams. Though they did take Kansas to overtime and lost to Stanford due to questionable officiating on Feb. 16, they still lost. Tourney teams find ways to win those games.

    They have a bad home loss against Virginia, who has the worst record in the Atlantic Coast Conference (13-12, 3-9) and did not play particularly well against NAU or Nevada-Las Vegas

    Arizona’s best out-of-conference win was Texas A&M who, despite having 20 wins, is a mediocre 6-6 in the Big 12 Conference and is mired in a three-game losing streak with bad consecutive home losses to Nebraska (16-9, 5-7) and
    Oklahoma State (14-12, 5-7).

    The Pac-10 has four locks in the tournament; UCLA, Stanford, Washington State and USC. Arizona State and Oregon would have both swept Arizona. I cannot see them getting a spot over either of those teams.

    It’s time for some new blood in the tournament. Just because the Wildcats have been to the dance 23 consecutive times doesn’t mean they should always get to groove with the pretty girl.

    And the National Invitation Tournament is not all that bad.

    Michael Fitzpatrick, sports writer

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