Not many people can say they were expecting this. The NCAA Tournament’s beloved first weekend ended with the Arizona Wildcats among this year’s surprise teams crashing the Sweet Sixteen party.
Mike Krzyzewski and his top-seeded Duke Blue Devils now stand in their path.
Some fans may find themselves satisfied knowing the Wildcats outdid all other Pac-10 members in making it this far in a season Washington was expected to control. Facing Duke, though, should present enough interesting story lines to keep even the skeptics interested.
Arizona showed this weekend that while they don’t have the easiest time closing out teams when given the chance, they are capable of escaping with clutch victories. Controversial plays may have decided their first two games against Memphis and Texas, but the Wildcats could also be described as opportunistic.
Yet another golden opportunity has arisen. Arizona is now looking to upset a vulnerable No. 1 seed in Duke, who allowed Michigan to hang around late in their third round 73-71 victory.
One advantage Arizona has in this game is Pac-10 Player of the Year and All American Derrick Williams.
Through two tournament games Williams has handled the pressure of being Arizona’s premier player and will now look to support coach Sean Miller’s attempt at outcoaching one of the all-time greats who will be pacing the opposite sideline.
Coach K earned his 900th career victory in the win over Michigan and will be celebrating as he prepares for what he hopes will be win number 901. Miller isn’t busy counting wins just yet, but will instead be teaching his team to focus through 40 minutes in order to bust brackets around the country.
With Williams, Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and the returning Kyrie Irving featured, this game will be high on stars and, most likely, the drama March Madness is most famous for. Wildcats fans will also look to outnumber Duke’s followers in a game conveniently located in Anaheim, California.
With an Elite Eight spot on the line, Arizona shouldn’t be counted out as much as they most likely will be. Duke is a tough draw, but with so many top seeds already out of the picture, anything can happen.
There’s a reason they call it madness, after all.