Arizona Wildcats basketball: We’re No. 2?by Anthony Gimino on Mar. 01, 2010, under Sports
With the Arizona Wildcats’ last-second win at Stanford, UA fans now have something more to do this week than boo Kevin O’Neill in his return to McKale Center.
There is some actual important basketball to be played.
It didn’t seem possible when the Wildcats were losing five of six games in February, regressing instead of progressing, but Arizona still has a chance to be the No. 2 seed in the Pac-10 tournament.
I said a chance. Not a good chance. We’ll get into that in a bit.
For Arizona, for much of the year, it’s been all about getting hot at the right time … and then hoping the basketball gods are smiling upon coach Sean Miller when he takes his Wildcats to Staples Center for the league tournament.
That’s still possible.
Fresh off that 71-69 victory at Stanford on Saturday, the Wildcats finish the regular season at home this week against UCLA (The Team That Can’t Stay Healthy) and USC (The Team That Can’t Score 50 Points).
I like Arizona’s chances.
Finishing in a tie for second in the Pac-10 is quite a long shot, though.
Here’s what has to happen:
- Arizona sweeps UCLA and USC.
- ASU loses to USC and UCLA.
- Washington does no better than split on the road at the Oregon schools.
It’s too early to get into all the various tiebreaker scenarios that might be needed for the Pac-10 tournament, but there is this: If Arizona and Arizona State tie for second, the Wildcats have the tiebreaker edge.
Since the teams split the season series, the next tiebreaker is how each team fared against the league champ, Cal. Arizona split. ASU lost twice. Edge to Arizona. That’s how the Cats can get the No. 2 seed.
If Arizona, ASU and Washington tie for second, it gets more complicated. We’ll get into that Friday, if needed.
On the other hand, Arizona could finish as low as a three-way tie for seventh.
Here’s how that could work:
- Arizona loses to UCLA and USC to finish 8-10.
- Oregon State sweeps the visiting Washington schools to finish 9-9.
- Stanford beats visiting Cal to get to 8-10.
- Oregon sweeps the Washington schools to finish 8-10.
So, in this wacky season in the Pac-10 — and by wacky, we mean WAC-like — Arizona heads into the final week of the regular season with the ability to be the No. 2 seed in the league tournament. Or (pending my ability to work out the tiebreakers), the Wildcats could still tumble to the Wednesday night play-in game (about 19,000 good seats available).
Makes you hope that more guys than just Derrick Williams and MoMo Jones still care about what happens the rest of the way.
Two wins this week means a possible — likely — NIT berth if the Wildcats don’t win the Pac-10 tourney to earn an invite to the NCAAs. Some of the Wildcats have been playing as if the season has been too long. But there is something worse than a long season. One that is too short.
Really, the Cats have no excuses for not winning two games this week.
UCLA just lost at home to Oregon and has three forwards who might not be ready Thursday — Reeves Nelson (retina), Nikola Dragovic (sprained his ankle after stepping on a basketball in warm-ups Saturday) and Brendan Lane (sprained ankle).
O’Neill’s depth-challenged USC team hasn’t scored more than 47 points in any of the past three games, and its tank is on empty, especially with a self-imposed postseason ban. In being swept at home by the Oregon schools last week, the Trojans scored a total of 31 second-half points.
Funny how it could all work out.
With a sweep, Arizona most likely would finish fourth in the Pac-10 … just as we all predicted back in October.
More TucsonCitizen.com Sports Network coverage:
Scott Terrell, UASports.net:
Javier Morales, WildAboutAZCats.com: