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Arizona Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament: What they’re saying

Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson works his way through Belmont defenders Thursday. Photo by Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats will take on Harvard at 3:10 PT on Saturday, and the teams will conduct interview sessions this afternoon. Until we all reload with new information, here is a look at what others are saying about both teams:

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Jack Magruder of FoxSportsArizona.com writes:

Miller preaches defense and rebounding, and when the Wildcats are rebounding at their best, good things can happen. Their 69-50 victory over No. 5 Miami in the Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 23 was due to a plus-26 advantage on the boards, and they outrebounded 11 of their opponents in the 14-0 start that pushed them to No. 3 in the nation entering Pac-12 play.

The Cats talked about regaining their defensive focus in the last several weeks, and it showed against Belmont, which shot only 39.2 percent from the field. At the same time, Kevin Parrom – 12 points, eight rebounds – said, “The best is yet to come.”

“We’re not at our peak. I don’t think we have had our best moments yet,” he continued.

Read the full story at FoxSportsArizona.com

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Matt Norlander of CBSSports.com says:

Arizona is a team that started the season 14-0, remember. It had some skids into mid-winter, but in general the team has the talent of a No. 2 or No. 3 seed. What’s clear: Arizona did not play many better games this season than what we saw in Utah on Thursday night. That’s good timing. And Sean Miller is now 5-1 in the Round of 64.

If the Wildcats put up a similar performance inside and get reliable play from Lyons, who had just one turnover, then this team will be as reputable as the one who didn’t lose until Jan. 10.

Read the rest at CBSSports.com

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Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star writes how Belmont came away impressed with the Wildcats:

Who didn’t pick the Bruins to bounce Arizona out of the NCAA tournament?

“People thought we’d beat Arizona,” said Belmont guard Ian Clark. “Lots of our fans.”

Even Byrd was engulfed by the anticipation of a beat-the-big-dog and charm-the-nation fever. Whatever he was telling his team, it surely wasn’t “we’re gonna need a miracle, boys.”

Perhaps Byrd watched the wrong videos while evaluating the Wildcats. Maybe his hopes grew to be unrealistic if he watched USC rip Arizona on Feb. 27. And it’s conceivable he spent too long breaking down the Valentine’s Day basketball massacre, when Colorado toyed with the Wildcats.

Read more at the Arizona Daily Star

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The Harvard Crimson takes an early look at the matchup vs. Arizona:

ESPN’s Giant Killers model forecasts Harvard to have a 17.6 percent chance of beating the Wildcats come Saturday afternoon. The model’s concerns lie with Arizona’s ability to rebound the ball offensively, which will be exacerbated against the weak Harvard front line. The Crimson juggled three big men with three or four fouls for most of the second half against the Lobos and (Kenyatta) Smith and co. have a tendency to get into foul trouble, something they must avoid against the Wildcats.

Here is the full analysis at Harvard Crimson:

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Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic has a game story and a video interview with Brandon Ashley.

The Arizona Daily Wildcat has stories from Salt Lake City.

Arizona Athletics posts a bunch of videos and other information at ArizonaWildcats.com.

You can find all my Arizona basketball stories at this link on TucsonCitizen.com.

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Ryan Fagan of the Sporting News talks about Harvard’s upset and looks ahead to the matchup vs. Arizona in this video:

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