You can’t write about the tournament without “notes,” “trivia” or “fun facts.”
Well, take note: Here come the fun, trivial WU Facts!
The Arizona Wildcats have been in the West region in all four appearances under coach Sean Miller. The furthest east Miller has traveled for a UA tournament game is Tulsa for first and second round games in 2011.
Take hope! Arizona has gone to the Final Four the last two times it has been a No. 2 seed, in 1994 and 2001. Compare that to the UA only winning its region once in six attempts as a 1-seed. The Cats advanced to the Final Four as the top seed in 1988 but came up short in ’89, ’98, 2000 (Wisconsin!), ’03 and ’14 (Wisconsin again!).
In other words, thanks for the 2-seed, 2015 selection committee (except for the Wisconsin part)!
Speaking of the second-best seed, here were the won-loss records of last year’s No. 2 seeds heading into the tournament:
Compare that to this season:
Both the ACC and Pac-12 champions finished with just three losses and neither earned a 1-seed. The last time there were three 2-seeds with three or fewer losses was 2004. But be warned, top seeds: Only two 1-seeds and two 2-seeds survived to their regional final that season.
* * *
Arizona’s opening-round opponent has a very interesting story. Texas Southern University is in Houston and the Tigers are coached by Mike Davis. You may remember him as the guy who took over at Indiana when Bobby Knight was fired.
Davis took the Hoosiers to the national championship game in 2002. He later coached at UAB and led the Blazers to the NCAA tournament in 2011. This is his third season at TSU and second NCAA tournament appearance with the Tigers.
But that’s not the interesting story. Davis and TSU played 14 of their first 15 games this season away from home. On purpose. Davis wanted to play big-name teams and that’s exactly what he did.
Texas Southern lost the first eight of those away contests, including games at Gonzaga, Baylor and SMU. The Tigers then got their road legs under them and beat Michigan State, lost to Auburn by one, beat Kansas State and lost to New Mexico State by one.
TSU was 3-10 at this point but the embodiment of battle-tested. It paid off with a 19-2 run through the Southwestern Athletic Conference including the SWAC tournament title.
That’s the good news for the Tigers. Their leading scorer is 6-1 senior point guard Madarious Gibbs. That lack of size summarizes the rest of the roster. TSU plays no one taller than a pair of 6-8 guys and neither of them averages more than 15 minutes a game.
Texas Southern doesn’t even make up for it with 3-point shooting. The Tigers shoot 32% from behind the arc as a team which is worse than every Pac-12 team.
* * *
Final WU Facts from Las Vegas:
Arizona won its fifth conference tournament championship, retaking the all-time lead in the Pac-12.
Pac-12 Tournament Champions by School
No “State” has ever won the tournament. Every “University of” has won except California and Utah. Both “Blank Universities” (Stanford and Colorado) have also won one each.
It’s a sad state for “State.”
– – – – –