The Arizona Wildcats are a lock to make a third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
The question is: How will the tournament selection committee judge the Cats’ body of work?
On the plus side, UA has four wins over RPI top-25 teams: Gonzaga, Utah (twice) and San Diego State.
On the negative, all three of UA’s losses came against teams well outside the RPI top 50: Oregon State, Arizona State and UNLV.
The Wildcats advanced to the Sweet 16 in all three of their tournament appearances under sixth-year head coach Sean Miller, and they advanced to the Elite Eight twice, in 2011 and 2014.
But the Wildcats have not advanced to the Final Four since 2001 — and Miller, who has gone to the Elite Eight three times, including once as head coach of Xavier in 2008, is arguably the best active NCAA head coach to not make a Final Four trip.
Led by freshman phenom Stanley Johnson and senior point guard T.J. McConnell, this year’s Wildcats are certainly capable of getting Miller that elusive Final Four berth. But as always, success in the NCAA Tournament largely comes down to matchups, as well as location.
UA would prefer to play in the tournament’s West region, making it easier for fans to make the trip to Staples Center in Los Angeles should the Wildcats advance to this year’s Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.
Here are some forecasts from select bracket experts on where the Wildcats may end up come Selection Sunday on March 15. (Click here for a list of all — and we mean all — bracket projections that exist on the Web.)
Joe Lunardi, ESPN.com (March 9): No. 2 seed, West region
Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com (March 9): No. 2 seed, West region
Michael Beller, Sports Illustrated (March 9): No. 2 seed, West region
Ian Powers, New York Daily News (March 9): No. 2 seed, West region
Jason Lisk, thebiglead.com (March 8): No. 2 seed (region not specified)
Brad Evans, Yahoo.com (March 9): No. 2 seed (region not specified)
Stewart Mandel, FoxSports.com (March 9): No. 2 seed, West region
Chris Dobbertean, SBNation.com (March 9): No. 2 seed, West region
Dave Ommen, NBCsports.com (March 9): No. 2 seed, West region