The Arizona Wildcats, back in the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence, will begin their journey in Tulsa, Okla, on Friday.
Arizona, which is 27-7 after an overtime loss to Washington in the Pac-10 tournament championship game, is a No. 5 seed and will play 12th-seeded Memphis, coached by former Arizona player and assistant coach Josh Pastner.
“I think that’s cool. That’s neat,” Pastner told the Memphis Commericial Appeal. “Arizona, obviously, that’s my alma mater, but I bleed blue and gray. That’s the bottom line.”
The winner of Arizona-Memphis likely takes on No. 4 Texas, which opens against Oakland.
Said analyst Charles Barkley on the CBS Selection Show: “I think the winner of Arizona-Texas can go deep in the tournament.”
Arizona is in the West Region, where the No. 1 seed is Duke. If the Wildcats advance to the Sweet 16, they would move on to Anaheim, Calif.
Arizona’s No. 5 seed is its best since 2005, when it was a No. 3.
Arizona had advanced to 25 consecutive tournaments before missing last season with a 16-15 record.
But coach Sean Miller has re-elevated the program faster than most had dared to hope, winning the Pac-10 regular-season title in his second year.
Here is Arizona’s numbers from the NCAA Tournament:
Appearances: 29 (including this season)
National championships: 1, 1997
Final Fours: 4, 1988, 1994, 1997, 2001
Elite Eights: 8, 1976, 1988, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005
Sweet 16s: 13, 1976, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009
Ohio State is the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. Check out the full bracket.