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Arizona basketball: Wildcats a No. 6 seed in the West

Sean Miller

Sean Miller’s team was considered in some projections to be a No. 4 seed heading into Sunday. Photo by Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona, once in the discussion for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, ends up being a sixth seed in the West.

The Wildcats, who lost five of their past 10 games, will play 11th-seeded Belmont in Salt Lake City on Thursday (4:20 p.m. Tucson time, TNT). A matchup against No. 3 New Mexico or No. 14 Harvard awaits the winner of Arizona-Belmont.

Belmont, from the Ohio Valley Conference, is 26-6. The Bruins — yeah, Arizona is already 0-3 against Bruins this season — won at Stanford 70-62 early in the season.

At least Arizona gets to stay in the West Region and will get to play in Los Angeles if it makes the Sweet 16. Gonzaga is the No. 1 seed in the West.

Overall, the Pac-12 fared very poorly in the seeding.

Regular-season champ UCLA is the sixth seed in the South against No. 11 Minnesota. Colorado is a 10th seed vs. No. 7 Illinois.

In a surprise to everyone, Pac-12 tournament champ Oregon, which tied for second place in the regular season, was given only a 12th seed, facing a first-round game against No. 5 Oklahoma State in the Midwest. Cal is also a 12th seed, but gets to stay close to home and take on fifth-seeded UNLV in San Jose.

NCAA selection committee chairman Mike Bobinski said Cal and Oregon each dropped a seeding line because of challenges in setting up the bracket with appropriate geography and to avoid conference rematches.

Arizona is making its 30th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have a 45-28 tournament record with four Final Four appearances. Arizona made the national championship game in 1997 and 2001, winning it all in ’97.

This is Arizona’s second tournament appearance in four years under coach Sean Miller, who took over after a difficult time in the program, which was coming off two seasons with interim head coaches. Arizona reached the West regional final in 2011, losing to UConn 65-63.


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