ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona projected as No. 2 seed for NCAA Tournament, GCU 12th

Mar 17, 2024, 8:55 AM

Head coach Tommy Lloyd of the Arizona Wildcats calls to his team in the second half of a semifinal ...

Head coach Tommy Lloyd of the Arizona Wildcats calls to his team in the second half of a semifinal game against the Oregon Ducks during the the Pac-12 Conference basketball tournament at T-Mobile Arena on March 15, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Ducks defeated the Wildcats 67-59. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Heading into Selection Sunday, the Arizona Wildcats’ two losses within a week’s time have still been deemed as costly enough to have them miss out on a top seed for the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona is projected as a nearly unanimous No. 2 seed on the eve of brackets getting released, with an agreement across plenty of bracket experts of Connecticut, Purdue, Houston and North Carolina for No. 1 seeds. The 25-8 Wildcats lost to USC in their last game of the regular season before getting upset by eventual Pac-12 Tournament champions Oregon in the semifinals.

Could Sunday’s final conference championship games change any outcomes and potentially even bump the Wildcats down? ESPN’s Joe Lunardi says no, having Illinois with a No. 3 seed regardless of if it can take down Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament final or not. Ditto for Auburn in the SEC projected as a No. 3 seed as well prior to facing Florida in the tournament final.

As far as placements on the bracket, Lunardi’s bracketology has Arizona in the west region taking on 15th-seeded Long Beach State, with a very interesting potential matchup looming against seventh-seeded Gonzaga, where Arizona head coach Tommy Lloyd worked under Mark Few as an assistant.

That’s the region Lunardi has also pegged the winners of both the Western Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament, Grand Canyon.

GCU slots in as a No. 12 seed, which would be the highest seed in school history after head coach Bryce Drew has led the ‘Lopes to their third big dance in four years. The matchup draw is projected as fifth-seeded BYU in Salt Lake City, and that would be an unfortunate schedule draw in terms of the Cougars’ ability to have their fanbase close by an hour from Provo.

The 29-4 ‘Lopes will certainly be a popular pick for an upset with the usual selection of a 12th-seeded squad over a No. 5 seed almost a prerequisite when filling out a bracket. WAC Player of the Year Tyon Grant-Foster is a smart player to ride by in that regard. He’s averaging a conference-high 19.8 points per game to go with 6.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.7 steals.

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