The 12-month nightmare is over.
I love Selection Sunday. I love each team being revealed like an answer on Family Feud. “Survey says… 5 seed!”
I love the discussions about easy draws and loaded regions. I enjoy the debates about which teams got robbed and which teams did the robbing.
Last year wasn’t much fun without the Arizona Wildcats. The fun is back in a big way.
You never want to lose to a lower seed in the 1st round but after that the pressure is off this year’s UA team. There will be plenty of seasons with high expectations for Sean Miller but his first trip to the NCAA tournament as the Arizona coach should be a celebration.
Considering how quickly Miller got the program from 19-15/21-14/16-15 to 27-7, this might just be the last tournament without heightened expectations.
Arizona’s return to a familiar place brings about the return of another familiar face. Last week’s coaching drama involved Kevin O’Neill and now all the stories will be about Josh Pastner. I’m surprised Russ Pennell’s Grand Canyon U. didn’t somehow end up as the Cats’ potential 3rd round opponent.
The Pastner thing isn’t going to affect the UA’s preparation or play. Miller has no emotional ties to him. Only Jamelle Horne played for him. Memphis could be coached by Elvis for all the Wildcats care.
But Pastner will be plenty distracted. The talk should be about his first Big Dance as head coach, not how he used to shag rebounds for Mike Bibby. It’s a raw deal for a guy navigating the NCAA tournament waters for the first time.
Playing Texas just 230 miles from the Texas border could be the Cats’ raw deal. It’s time to get all of Oakland involved in upsetting the Longhorns – John Madden, Rickey Henderson, M.C. Hammer… What’s that? Oakland University is where?!
The reward for surviving against Memphis (400 miles from Tulsa) and Texas would be a decided travel advantage against Duke. How great would it be to get a shot at the Blue Devils in Southern California?
After a long, painful 52 weeks everything great about March Madness is back.
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What did we learn from the Pac-10 tournament?
– It’s a lot more interesting when Arizona goes all-out to win it.
The Cats weren’t trying to rest for the NCAAs; they were trying to bring home a trophy.
– Deeper is better.
The lesson is to have enough depth that you’re not worried about three games destroying your team for the following week.
– There’s no shame in losing a championship game like that.
Yes, there were two big defensive lapses at the end, and making a couple more free throws would have made a world of difference, but Derrick Williams’ full-court, full-speed three-point play was huge and Kevin Parrom’s game-tying 3-pointer in OT was huge. The Huskies were just huger.
– Huger is a real word.
– Regular season championships are still better than conference tournament titles.
Lorenzo Romar has now cut down the nets at Staples Center three times in the last seven years. That may make him the king of the three-day weekend but he still has mastered the 18-game regular season only once. Considering this conference has been handing out regular season championships since 1916 that’s the one you want.
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The Arizona baseball team put in another five-game work week with familiar results.
The BatCats split two at UNLV and swept three from Northern Colorado. In the five games the UA starting pitchers posted an ERA of 2.18 while the relievers got tagged at a 7.36 clip.
The strange part is all nine of the runs allowed by the bullpen came in one inning.
The Wildcats have lost three games this year. One was after giving up an 8-run inning against Rice and another was due to a 9-run inning vs. UNLV.
The UA will next try its hand at traveling to play a ranked Wichita State club on Tuesday and Wednesday. Big bullpen blowups are not invited.
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