Sean Miller, Arizona Wildcats have history with teams in their tournament region

Mar 17, 2015, 5:45 PM | Updated: 11:58 pm


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Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller is glad he won’t see a recurring foe in his team’s bracket during the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

“One of the teams that I didn’t want to see was San Diego State. Not only because they’re a terrific team, but I know they’re tired of playing us, we’re tired of playing them,” Miller said Sunday after UA was selected as the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s West region.

“It seems like every game we play is just a hard-fought game, and it’s just like, ‘Let us play a hard-fought game against somebody else.'”

Indeed, UA and SDSU have played four times in the last three seasons, including in the Sweet Sixteen during the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats won all four, but each game was a tight, competitive contest.

But even without the Aztecs, who are seeded eighth in the South region, the Wildcats have plenty of history with some teams in their region in this year’s bracket.

They defeated North Carolina, this year’s No. 4 seed in the West, in the 1997 National Semifinals as part of their march toward their first and only NCAA championship.

They also beat Oklahoma State, this year’s No. 9 seed out West, on a last-second basket by Salim Stoudamire in the 2005 Regional Semifinal.

But there are three teams in particular in the West region with whom Miller and Arizona have an especially deep history:

Wisconsin (No. 1 seed)

Arizona’s history with the Badgers goes well beyond last year’s one-point overtime loss in the Elite Eight. In fact, Wisconsin has twice knocked a top-seeded Wildcat team out of the Big Dance.

Just as they were last season, the Wildcats were the No. 1 seed in the West region in 2000. They cruised past 16th-seeded Jackson State 71-47 in the first round, but in the round of 32, the eighth-seeded Badgers caused Arizona all kinds of grief.

UA shot just 39 percent from the floor (Wisconsin shot 49 percent) and committed 17 turnovers, as the Badgers led throughout the game and came away with a 66-59 upset en route to a Final Four appearance. Jason Gardner (3-of-11) and Gilbert Arenas (7-of-18) both struggled from the field for Arizona.

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