Arizona basketball enters NCAA Tournament a No. 2 seed, to face No. 15 Princeton
The Arizona Wildcats are 2-for-2 with NCAA Tournament berths under Tommy Lloyd and hold that same percentage for getting a high seed.
After a 28-6 record in the regular season and Pac-12 Tournament, the Wildcats are the No. 2 seed in the South region.
The Wildcats will take on No. 15 seed Princeton Tigers in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday at 1:10 p.m.
The Round of 32 matchup would see Arizona play the winner of No. 7 Missouri and No. 10 Utah State Aggies if it advances. The Alabama Crimson Tide took the No. 1 seed in the region and overall in the tournament. Baylor got the No. 3 seed, while Virginia sits at No. 4.
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Arizona’s fate comes after it won the Pac-12 championship 61-59 over UCLA on Saturday thanks to Courtney Ramey’s go-ahead three-pointer with 18 seconds left.
The Wildcats are led by junior forward Azuolas Tubelis, who led the Pac-12 in both scoring and rebounding. He is alongside junior center Oumar Ballo in the Wildcats’ formidable frontcourt, arguably the best in the country. Both were First Team All-Pac-12 selections.
Arizona has a high-octane offense that finished top-five in the country for both points and assists per game.
How much the Wildcats can get from their supporting cast will be key.
Senior guard Ramey and senior forward Cedric Henderson Jr. are two transfers who helped fill the void left by first-round picks Bennedict Mathurin and Dalen Terry. While Ramey and Henderson have shown they are capable of huge performances, the consistency of perimeter scoring and playmaking the NBA duo provided has understandably not been the same.
Some of that playmaking comes from eccentric junior point guard Kerr Kriisa. The Estonian led the conference in assists for the second straight season.
Off the bench, the depth is light, but contributions could come from junior guard Pelle Larsson and guard Kylan Boswell, a true freshman. Larsson won Sixth Man of the Year for the Pac-12 last year and was moved back to that role after initially starting to begin the season. Boswell, still just 17 years old, brings a needed defensive pedigree and has given a life to Arizona more and more as the season has gone along.
Arizona will look to avoid another disappointing run in the NCAA Tournament after being upset in the Sweet 16 by Houston last year as a No. 1 seed.