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The Bounce: Would an Arizona win over Utah qualify as an upset?

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<p>'I've got to stop and take a breath. I'm old. I don't need to be running up and down.'</p>
<p>Rockets center, on Monday's game against New Orleans

<h4>QUOTABLE </h4>

'I've got to stop and take a breath. I'm old. I don't need to be running up and down.'


Rockets center, on Monday's game against New Orleans

When the Utah Utes and Arizona Wildcats take the floor Friday night in Miami for a first-round game in the NCAA Tournament, everybody will be wondering, “What are these guys doing here?”

The question will apply equally to each team.

The pairings of No. 5 and 12 seeds traditionally create intriguing games and opportunities for upsets, but Utah against Arizona is not your standard matchup, even in this neighborhood of the bracket.

The NCAA scripts almost everything involving the student-athletes in this event, and organizers might as well prepare this line for Friday’s winning team: “Nobody gave us a chance.”

Not the folks who said Arizona did not belong in the tournament, and not those who said the Wildcats would beat Utah – who, conveniently enough, are some of the same people.

It all comes down to one fundamental question: If a No. 12 seed wins as the betting favorite, can anybody call it an upset?

“We’ve been underdogs all year, really,” said Utah forward Shaun Green.

So it is that Utah’s staff is taping the commentary of analysts suggesting the Utes are in trouble, while the Wildcats undoubtedly are compiling quotes from others saying they do not belong in the field.

There’s even a theory that the committee charged with selection and seeding purposely paired Utah with Arizona, making its judgment in including the Wildcats appear sound when they win.

That’s in contrast to the suggestion that Utah’s No. 5 seed was a parting gift to athletic director Chris Hill, having completed his five-year committee term. Each school of thought is ridiculous, but do you have a better explanation for Utah’s No. 5 seed?

Having to play a team with Arizona’s talent reduces the reward for Utah’s No. 5 seed, but it still is remarkable how and why the Utes climbed to that level.

Other than maybe Boston College (No. 7) or Michigan (No. 10), no school was treated more favorably by the committee than Utah – except for having to travel to Miami, while Utah State stays close to home in Boise, Idaho.

Boylen figures the Utes were slotted between No. 6 and No. 8 before winning the Mountain West Conference tournament, which boosted them. Then again, all they did was beat the Nos. 7, 6 and 4 seeds in Las Vegas, while the other two co-champions were upset by other teams.

UConn grad rate low

North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Connecticut share a No. 1 seeding in the NCAA tournament. Their graduation rates have less in common.

The numbers ranged from 86 percent at North Carolina to 33 percent at UConn, according to a report released Monday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

Louisville was at 42 percent and Pitt at 69 percent.

Arizona is near the bottom at 20 percent.

The study also found that fewer tournament teams have failing Academic Progress Rates than last year. Twenty-one of the 65 tournament teams have APR scores under 925, the cutoff below which the NCAA can penalize schools. Last year, 35 teams had APR scores below 925.

Graduation rates remained similar to last year. Forty of the teams had graduation rates of at least 50 percent.

The graduation rates were based on whether freshmen who entered school between the 1998-99 and 2001-02 school years earned diplomas within six years.

Seven teams had a 100 percent graduation rate: Binghamton, Florida State, Marquette, Robert Morris, Utah State, Wake Forest and Western Kentucky.

The five lowest rates were at Cal State Northridge (8 percent), Maryland (10 percent), Portland State (17 percent), UA and Clemson (29 percent).

The study noted the ongoing gaps between the graduation rates of white and African-American players. Twenty-five tournament teams had a gap of 20 percentage points or more between the two groups.

The Associated Press

UA men’s golf tumbles

The University of Arizona men’s golf team fell six places in the final round to finish ninth at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship in Las Vegas, Nev., on Monday.

The Wildcats finished at 28-over-par 316 for three rounds. Tyler Neal’s 5-over 221 (tied for 19th place) led UA. He was followed by Brad Nicholson (T39, 225), Rich Saferian (T39, 225), Jonathan Khan (T45, 226) and Tarquin MacManus (T47, 227).

Wildcat Philip Bagdade (T75, 238) competed as an individual.

UNLV shot 6-over 282 for the team title.

Arizona next hosts the annual National Invitation Tournament on March 22-23.

Citizen Staff Report

UA’s Goldman honored

University of Arizona sophomore Jay Goldman has been named the Pac-10 men’s tennis player of the week.

Goldman dominated his No. 1 singles matches last week, winning both in straight sets. He is now 7-3 in singles play for the year and has teamed with three different UA players for an overall 6-3 doubles mark.

He is the third Wildcat to receive the award, following Andres Arango (Feb. 9) and Andres Carrasco (Feb. 23).

Arizona, on a 12-match winning streak, is 14-1 for the year and will next host Northwestern on March 25.

Citizen Staff Report

USA fighting injuries

MIAMI – Team USA manager Davey Johnson already knows what he would do if injuries got so bad in the World Baseball Classic that he ran out of certain position players: He would forfeit.

The injury-plagued Americans were so short-handed Sunday against the Netherlands that backup catcher Brian McCann played left field in the ninth. Asked during the team’s batting practice Monday who his third catcher would have been, Johnson said he wouldn’t have even tried to put a player in that position for fear of injury – even if it meant elimination.

He used Kevin Youkilis as an example, saying he could never return to Boston if the Red Sox first baseman was injured playing catcher in the WBC.

“I would definitely had to gone out and said we had to forfeit this ballgame,” Johnson said. “Yeah, I’d forfeit it.”

Added Youkilis: “Yeah, he probably would.”

About the only constant in the World Baseball Classic for the United States is that everyone seems to be getting injured.

Chipper Jones, Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Braun and Matt Lindstrom all have been lost to injury – and that was just this weekend.

Pedroia was replaced by Brian Roberts before Saturday’s game, but tournament rules prevent the team from replacing the others on the roster until the next round.

The slew of sidelined U.S. stars have caused some to wonder if the tournament forces players to unnecessarily risk injury in an exhibition during usual spring training time. Others are questioning offseason conditioning by the Americans, who don’t play winter league baseball anywhere close to the rate as Latin and Asian players.

“I’m definitely going to have a list of things to submit to MLB of things that would make it easier for the manager” to avoid injuries, Johnson said.

The Associated Press