ARIZONA BASKETBALL

DeCourcy has Arizona in title game, but getting there won’t be easy

Mar 16, 2017, 9:41 AM
Arizona's Allonzo Trier reacts during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game ag...
Arizona's Allonzo Trier reacts during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Colorado in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 men's tournament Thursday, March 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. Arizona won 92-78. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
LISTEN: Michael DeCourcy, Sporting News college basketball writer

Sporting News NCAA writer Mike DeCourcy is pretty high on the Arizona Wildcats’ chances of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

“I have them in the championship game,” he told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday morning. “I like their team, I really do.

“I like their size, I like their depth; they have tough, attacking wings. They have multiple point guards and they can play them together, as they showed in the Oregon game — they played together down the stretch.”

DeCourcy added that though he is very high on the Wildcats, he understands they have some deficiencies on the defensive end, but overall notes Arizona has “a lot going for them.”

Of course, DeCourcy is not the only person who thinks highly of Arizona, who enter the tournament with a 30-4 record after claiming a share of the Pac-12 regular season championship and then winning the Pac-12 Tournament title by knocking off Colorado, UCLA and Oregon on successive days.

The success in Vegas earned Sean Miller’s team a two-seed in the West region, which essentially makes them one of the favorites. But, the writer said there are around eight to 10 teams who have a lot going for them right now, but all have flaws that could disqualify them from winning a championship.

Part of the beauty of the NCAA Tournament is the best team does not always win, rather it is whoever gets hot at the right time or has the best matchups as things progress.

With the latter idea in mind, many seem to think the Wildcats were given a fortuitous draw with their region, with Gonzaga as the No. 1 seed and Florida State, West Virginia and Notre Dame rounding out the top five.

In other words, it seems as though the Wildcats may have a fairly clear path to their first Final Four since 2001.

“I don’t agree with characterizations that this is a cake walk,” DeCourcy said. “At least at the Elite 8 level, Gonzaga is outstanding, they’re terrific. And if they play Gonzaga they’re going to have to play great to win.

“The idea that Gonzaga is weak because they play in an average league or whatever, Gonzaga’s tremendous. That’s a great basketball team.”

Gonzaga earned the top seed by finishing 32-1 this season. They won the West Coast Conference as well as the conference tournament, and even beat Arizona earlier in the season by a score of 69-62 in Los Angeles.

The Wildcats were without leading scorer Allonzo Trier and point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright that game, however, which is part of the reason why many believe if a rematch was to happen, Arizona would come out on top.

Looking at the entire tournament, DeCourcy said the one-seed he would rather play if he was Arizona was Villanova, who is the top seed in the East.

“I know they’re the defending champs and all that and they’re tough as nails, but I want to play the team that’s got no size, no depth, that hasn’t beaten a great team in this season,” he said. “The highest team that Villanova has beaten is a four, they beat Purdue on the road. That’s the highest team they’ve beaten this year.

“They were great last year and they’re still great, but they’re not the same as they were a year ago.”

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DeCourcy has Arizona in title game, but getting there won’t be easy