Arizona Sports Face-Off: Most improbable postseason run

May 14, 2012, 5:37 PM | Updated: 5:38 pm

The Phoenix Coyotes have reached the Western Conference
Finals, continuing a postseason run few saw coming, and
that got us to thinking: What team had the most improbable
postseason run in Arizona Sports history?

That’s the topic of this week’s Arizona Sports Face-Off.

Vince Marotta:
Super Cardinals
Adam
Green: Champion ‘Cats
You want improbable?

No, it wasn’t exactly the Bad News Bears driving
unchaperoned across four states to play and beat the Texas
state champion Toros (who were all twice the size of the
Bears, by the way), but the Arizona Cardinals 2009 march
to Super Bowl XLIII still has me shaking my head.

Considering the franchise had played in more cities
(three) than they had playoff wins (one) since 1947,
nobody took Ken Whisenhunt’s Cardinals seriously when the
NFL postseason began.

First, they knocked off Atlanta. Then, they went on the
road to deal Carolina their first home loss of the season.
And then it was back home to defeat the Philadelphia
Eagles in a thrilling NFC Championship Game and clinch
their first-ever trip to the sports world’s biggest game.

The fact that a 9-7 team hosted the conference
championship game added to the improbable nature.

It was a magical run, and far more surprising than the
Arizona Wildcats winning the 1997 NCAA Tournament.

Sorry, Adam.

im·prob·a·ble   [im-prob-uh-
buhl]
adjective
not probable; unlikely to be true or to happen.

It seems as though most postseason runs by Arizona’s teams
are improbable, and yes, the Cardinals’ trip to the Super
Bowl was unexpected. However, when looking back at a team
that had five pro bowlers and an elite passing game (along
with favorable playoff matchups), their success begins to
make more sense.

The same cannot be said for the 1997 Arizona Wildcats.

Were the ‘Cats good? Yes. Did they have some NBA talent?
Absolutely. But they weren’t the best team, as evidenced
by their seeding and 5th-place finish in the Pac-10
(which, by the way, was the lowest for any of Lute Olson’s
tournament teams).

So yeah, while the Cardinals’ run was great, it was only
improbable because we failed to realize what was in front
of us. The fourth-seeded Wildcats knocking off number one
seeds Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky?

It doesn’t get anymore improbable than that.

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