The Big Dance. March Madness. Ole…bracket-face.
Whatever you call it, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has returned in all its bracket-busting glory. And that’s almost always good news for University of Arizona basketball fans — and for the Wildcats, as well.
Sean Miller’s squad (25-7, 12-6) will face No. 11 Belmont (26-6, 14-2) on March 21 in Salt Lake City (time TBD).
It might be the 31st trip to the Big Dance for Wildcats, but it’s the first time they’ve ever been a six seed.
Since seeding began in 1985, Arizona has been a No. 1 seed and a No. 2 seed five times each. They’ve been a No. 3 seed four times and a No. 10 seed three times. The Wildcats have also twice danced as a No. 4, 5, 8 and 9 seeds. And, once in 2009, they were a No. 12.
Arizona has never been a No. 7, 11, 13, 14, 15 nor 16 seed. The year they were No. 12 (2009), they rolled to the Sweet Sixteen before being upended by this year’s No. 1 seed, Louisville.
During the seeded-tournament era they’ve amassed a 44-25 record.
The Wildcats have been bounced from the tourney in the first round 11 times, the latest coming in 2008 to West Virginia. The next most frequented round, however, is the Sweet Sixteen, with six appearances.
Arizona has never squared off against Belmont, the Ohio Valley Conference champs, but Sean Miller is 1-0 versus the Bruins.
The Wildcats are 4-1 all-time against the Ohio Valley Conference, with wins against Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Morehead State and Murray State (the only OVC team to dole the UA a loss).