Arizona plays Belmont in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday — a game that shows up on many “upset watch” lists — and here are 20 numbers to help get you ready:
0 — All-time victories, in five tries, in the NCAA Tournament for Belmont.
0.7 — Percent chance of the Arizona Wildcats winning the NCAA championship, as determined by Nate Silver at his blog on the New York Times website. So you’re telling me there’s a chance.
1 — Number of eligible players for Belmont taller than 6-7 (and 6-11 Chad Lang barely plays). Arizona has four players taller than 6-7 and could — should — come away with a double-digit rebounding edge. “We have a great chance against them, especially with our height and our ability to rebound the ball,” said Arizona senior Solomon Hill.
3 – Former Arizona players in the NCAA Tournament: Iona senior guard Momo Jones, Kansas senior center Jeff Withey and Colorado State sophomore guard Daniel Bejarano.
4 — Losses in five tries when Arizona plays on March 21, the date of its NCAA tourney opener against Belmont.
6 – Appearances in the NCAA Tournament for Belmont in the past eight seasons, the same as Arizona.
9 — Number of CBS experts, out of 12, who pick the Wildcats to beat Belmont. Three of the 12 predict the Cats to win twice in the tourney. The most bullish is UA alum Jeff Goodman, whose bracket has Arizona going to the regional final to face Gonzaga. Goodman, though, in a CBSSports.com video contradicts himself when he says he’s not a believer in Arizona. “What I need is good point guard play,” he said. “That’s as important as anything to me in filling out my bracket. Arizona does not have that point guard, which is why I think Belmont could easily pull the upset in this one.”
9.2 — Average seeding of the five Pac-12 teams in the NCAA Tournament. The Mountain West’s five team average a 7.2 seed. Cal vs. UNLV in the first round could be for some conference bragging rights, and the passionate fans of UA and New Mexico could blow the roof off EnergySolutions Arena if those teams advance to meet on Saturday.
17.4 — Turnovers forced per game by Belmont, which averages 9.8 steals, sixth-best in the country. Said former Arizona guard and current TV analyst Miles Simon on Doug Gottlieb’s radio show: “They get a lot of turnovers and steals, and we’re well aware Arizona’s biggest question mark has been at the point guard spot. It should be a very worrisome game for the Wildcats.”
28.9 – Combined 3-point shooting percentage of Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill in the past 10 games, as Arizona went just 5-5 down the stretch. They are UA’s most prolific 3-point shooters … and they’re in a shooting slump at the wrong time.
41 — Margin of victory for Sean Miller’s Xavier team when it took on Rick Byrd’s Belmont team on Dec. 1, 2007 (the score was 90-49). “I have coached against Belmont; they have one of the best coaches in college basketball, and he’s been at it a long time,” Miller said. “They are not just a good team, but a great program. We have the ultimate respect for them.”
44 — Victories for Arizona in the NCAA Tournament since 1985, tied for the fifth-most in the nation since 1985. Duke leads with 79. UCLA is next among Pac-12 schools with 40.
46 – Belmont’s spot in the ratings of basketball efficiency expert Ken Pomeroy, putting the Bruins in the company of Oregon (No. 43), UCLA (No. 44), Villanova (No. 45), Kentucky (No. 47) and Stanford (No. 48). Based on that, looks like Belmont could have been a player in the Pac-12 regular-season race.
46.3 — 3-point shooting percentage of Belmont guard Ian Clark, who ranks first in the nation in that category. He has made 99 of 214 attempts from behind the arc … so we know who Arizona guard Nick Johnson has been studying in film preparation this week.
49.4 — Belmont’s shooting percentage, which ranks fourth in the country. The Bruins make 38.6 percent of their 3-point attempts and have long been known for decades for their prowess behind the arc. “Their frontcourt players can really shoot the ball and put you in those compromising positions,” Miller said. “It’s really what I’ve said since October: It’s so important to defend the 3-point shot. At times, it’s done us in, and the monster we’re dealing with in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament is that very thing.”
136 — Career games played by Arizona’s Solomon Hill. If he and the Wildcats make it to the Elite Eight, he will pass Kyle Fogg (139) on UA’s list for games played. “I see guys like Solomon, Mark (Lyons) and Kevin (Parrom), who are one loss away to end their collegiate careers,” Miller said. “It is the greatest motivating factor for any team and coach.”
276 — Where Arizona ranks nationally in 3-point defense, allowing opponents to hit 36.0 percent. Belmont likes to play fast and get 3-pointers in transition; otherwise, the Bruins could have a difficult time against UA’s length in the half-court game.
$25,000 — Bonus Miller would earn by beating Belmont and advancing to the Round of 32.
$25,000 – Fine assessed to Miller from the Pac-12 for inappropriate conduct toward game and league officials after the loss to UCLA in the conference tournament semifinals on Friday.
$40,000 — Bonus earned by Miller one day earlier for reaching 25 victories in a season.