Arizona Wildcats 6-0 in previous games vs. double-digit seeds in second roundby Javier Morales on Mar. 22, 2013, under Sports
Arizona, which beat No. 11 seed Belmont Thursday and faces No. 14 Harvard on Saturday, has played two double-digit seeds in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament five times previously.
One of those years included Arizona’s national championship run of 1997 and another involved the Wildcats’ appearance in the 2001 national championship.
The UA, seeded No. 4 in 1997, beat No. 13 South Alabama in the first round and followed that with a victory over No. 12 College of Charleston. The Wildcats played College of Charleston by virtue of the Cougars’ upset of fifth-seed Maryland in the first round.
Arizona, seeded No. 2 in 2001, defeated No. 15 Eastern Illinois in the first round before beating No. 10 Butler in the second round. Butler played the Wildcats after upsetting No. 7 seed Wake Forest in the first round.
The other years the Wildcats faced two double-digit seeds to start the tournament were 1991 (No. 15 St. Francis, Pa., and No. 10 BYU), 2002 (No. 14 Cal-Santa Barbara and No. 11 Wyoming) and 2005 (No. 14 Utah State and No. 11 Alabama-Birmingham). Arizona advanced to the Sweet 16 in 1991 and 2002 and reached the Elite Eight in 2005.
Arizona is 6-0 overall playing a double-digit seed in the second round. The Wildcats beat No. 13 seed Cleveland State in 2009 after defeating No. 5 seed Utah in the first round.
Related link at WILDABOUTAZCATS.net: Arizona faces upset-minded Harvard in next round of NCAA tournament
UA coach Sean Miller is now 7-0 against lower-seeded teams in the NCAA tournament dating back to his Xavier tenure. The Wildcats look to extend both streaks against Harvard with what some of them called a chip on their shoulders after losing to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament.
Many pundits picked Belmont to upset Arizona although the Bruins were 0-5 in their five previous NCAA tournament appearances. Harvard won its first NCAA tournament game in school history with its 68-62 triumph over No. 4 New Mexico 68-62 Thursday night in Salt Lake City.
Belmont coach Rick Byrd went so far as to say that he is more impressed watching the Wildcats in person than what he saw on film before the game.
“I was more impressed with the team that I saw tonight than I was in scouting them,” Byrd said in the post-game press conference. “I thought they were more engaged and more focused, and I think if they play that way they can beat a lot of people.”
Miller responded: “I need to ask him what games he was watching. That will help me. I could see his point. You think, the one thing about our team that’s deceptive is we’re bigger and more physical than we get credit for.”
Read the rest of this post at WILDABOUTAZCATS.net. Site founder and publisher Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club winner.