NCAA regional finals rarely if ever live up to the hype that occurs when the two top-seeded teams face each other.
Saturday evening’s Elite Eight contest between the Arizona Wildcats and Wisconsin Badgers did just that and then some. In fact, it was a shame one team had to lose.
In the end, though, it was the Wildcats who ended up on the short end of the stick, falling to the Badgers 64-63 in an overtime classiC.
The loss denied Arizona its fifth trip to the Final Four and first since 2001. It also unfortunately extended the program’s Elite Eight losing streak to four games.
Here’s a look back at the Wildcats’ heartbreaking loss by the numbers:
Following an errant inbounds pass by Wisconsin in the final moments of Saturday’s game, Arizona did have a chance to win it. However, guard Nick Johnson failed to get off a final heave despite having 2.3 seconds at his disposal.
And speaking of Johnson, moments before his end-of-game possession, the junior was whistled for a rather questionable offensive foul as he drove in the paint. The Pac-12 Player of the Year finished with a team-high 16 points in a losing effort.
7 Part I:
The overtime affair between Arizona and Wisconsin marked the seventh during the 2014 NCAA tournament — tying the all-time record.
7 Part II:
How tough has the Elite Eight been to the Wildcats since 2001? Arizona’s four losses in the regional final have come by a combined seven points.
Heading into the regional final, Wisconsin had been averaging 20 attempts from the free throw line in the tournament. Saturday, the Wildcats limited the Badgers to only 12 tries from the charity stripe.
In the final game of his freshman season, forward Aaron Gordon put on a show when it came to the glass. Gordon grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds and scored five of his eight points in the extra session.
Wisconsin junior forward Frank Kaminsky proved to be the difference at the Honda Center. Kaminsky led all scorers with 28 points and also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds. The Badgers improved to 4-1 when Kaminsky scores 20 or more points.
While it didn’t find a way to get to Dallas, Arizona accomplished plenty in 2013-14. For one, its 33 wins are the second-most in school history for a single season. The 1987-88 went 35-3 en route to a loss against Oklahoma in the national semifinal.
Each team had two starters reach double figures (Nick Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski, Frank Kaminsky and Traevon Jackson), while the other six starters combined for only 35 points.
Both teams didn’t exactly scorch the nets. Arizona and Wisconsin both finished at 39 percent from the field for the night. The Badgers were a tad more effective from the charity stripe (83.3 percent to 70.6 percent), while the Wildcats were a touch better from distance (41.7 percent to 35.3 percent).
Another year, another denial at the Final Four’s doorstep for UA head coach Sean Miller. With Saturday’s loss, Miller fell to 0-3 in his coaching career in Elite Eight games. And with Bo Ryan advancing to North Texas, Miller (249 wins) has to endure yet another season of being considered college basketball’s best coach never to reach the pinnacle of his profession.
The one-point overtime win secured Wisconsin’s first Final Four appearance since 2000. The program also previously made the trip back in 1941.
Regional finals in Anaheim and the Arizona Wildcats don’t seem to together. Arizona’s last three Elite appearances (1998, 2011 and 2014) in the 92806 area code have resulted in defeats.