Opportunistic Wildcats look to continue run vs. Duke

Mar 21, 2011, 8:28 PM | Updated: 10:59 pm

Not many people can say they were expecting this. The NCAA Tournament’s beloved first weekend ended with the Arizona Wildcats among this year’s surprise teams crashing the Sweet Sixteen party.

Mike Krzyzewski and his top-seeded Duke Blue Devils now stand in their path.

Some fans may find themselves satisfied knowing the Wildcats outdid all other Pac-10 members in making it this far in a season Washington was expected to control. Facing Duke, though, should present enough interesting story lines to keep even the skeptics interested.

Arizona showed this weekend that while they don’t have the easiest time closing out teams when given the chance, they are capable of escaping with clutch victories. Controversial plays may have decided their first two games against Memphis and Texas, but the Wildcats could also be described as opportunistic.

Yet another golden opportunity has arisen. Arizona is now looking to upset a vulnerable No. 1 seed in Duke, who allowed Michigan to hang around late in their third round 73-71 victory.

One advantage Arizona has in this game is Pac-10 Player of the Year and All American Derrick Williams.

Through two tournament games Williams has handled the pressure of being Arizona’s premier player and will now look to support coach Sean Miller’s attempt at outcoaching one of the all-time greats who will be pacing the opposite sideline.

Coach K earned his 900th career victory in the win over Michigan and will be celebrating as he prepares for what he hopes will be win number 901. Miller isn’t busy counting wins just yet, but will instead be teaching his team to focus through 40 minutes in order to bust brackets around the country.

With Williams, Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler and the returning Kyrie Irving featured, this game will be high on stars and, most likely, the drama March Madness is most famous for. Wildcats fans will also look to outnumber Duke’s followers in a game conveniently located in Anaheim, California.

With an Elite Eight spot on the line, Arizona shouldn’t be counted out as much as they most likely will be. Duke is a tough draw, but with so many top seeds already out of the picture, anything can happen.

There’s a reason they call it madness, after all.

Arizona Basketball

President of the NCAA and former Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker...

Associated Press

NCAA president calls for new tier of Division I athletics to help NIL

NCAA president Charlie Baker announced Tuesday that he wants the organization to create a new tier of Division I athletics.

20 hours ago

Hoophall logo...

Damon Allred

High-profile Wildcats, Sun Devils show out at Hoophall West

All five of the blue-chip prospects signed to join Arizona State and Arizona basketball in 2024 played at Hoophall West, a landmark event.

2 days ago

Caleb Love...

Associated Press

Arizona Wildcats ranked No. 1 in men’s basketball AP poll for first time since 2014

The Arizona Wildcats rose to No. 1 in the AP men's basketball rankings for the first time in nearly nine years.

2 days ago

Arizona Wildcats guard Caleb Love...

Associated Press

No. 2 Arizona brushes away Colgate after big second half in Tucson

Caleb Love scored 14 points as No. 2 Arizona made a strong statement to move up to No. 1 by overwhelming Colgate 82-55.

4 days ago

Bronny James...

Associated Press

USC basketball’s Bronny James cleared to play 4 months after cardiac arrest

Bronny James has been cleared by doctors for a full return to basketball four months after suffering a cardiac arrest.

6 days ago

Arizona Wildcats guard Kylan Boswell...

Arizona Sports

No. 2 Arizona basketball’s Thanksgiving win over Michigan State drew 5 million viewers

The No. 2 Arizona Wildcats played the most-watched regular season game since North Carolina versus Duke in 2008

8 days ago

Opportunistic Wildcats look to continue run vs. Duke