On the eve of their opening game in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, there are plenty of people still boarding the Arizona Wildcats’ bandwagon.
Sean Miller’s team is the 2-seed in the West Region and will take on 15-seed Texas Southern in Portland. The Wildcats are 31-3 and are playing as well as anyone in the country, as evidenced by their 11-game winning streak during which they’ve beaten opponents by an average of 22 points per game.
ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla really likes the Wildcats heading into the “Big Dance”.
“I think they’ll see Kentucky in the national semifinal game, that’s the way it’s set up,” Fraschilla told Doug and Wolf Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I saw the Wildcats in person about three weeks ago at Utah — you remember that terrific game up in Salt Lake City.
“I love the defense, I love the length. I happen to be a Kaleb Tarczewski guy as a guy who is underrated in terms of their defense.”
Tarczewski, a 7-foot junior, hasn’t been a big shot-blocking threat, but is the center of an Arizona defense that ranks 26th in the nation, holding opponents to 39.2 percent shooting. Eight of Arizona’s foes during their winning streak have connected on a percentage lower than that.
Offensively, Fraschilla points to another player as the key for the Wildcats.
“If you told me right now Brandon Ashley would average 19 points a game in the first four games of the NCAA Tournament, much like he did this past weekend, I’d say Arizona has got a real chance not only to get to the Final Four, but a couple of Saturdays from now, beat Kentucky, or at least be in that ballgame late,” he said.
“I like this Arizona team. I think Sean’s gotten a lot out of this team this year. And the one thing you can count on them from game to game as they start these one-game winning streaks is they’re going to give you great defensive effort.”