Philip Tor | Slump Sports Blogger
SALT LAKE CITY — The Arizona Wildcats are running wild into the the NCAA tournament as one of the hottest teams in college basketball. The Wildcats were granted a #2 seed by the selection committee and are slated to play North Dakota in the second round of 64 teams. The Wildcats are fresh off an impressive PAC-12 tournament conference championship where the defeated Colorado, UCLA, and Oregon to claim their sixth tournament crown. Led by head coach Sean Miller, the Wildcats are built to make a deep run in March.
Miller stated his thrill with the teams placement in his press conference on Sunday,
“We’re excited about our seed and excited about being in the West region, in Salt Lake City… a place that we are familiar with.” Said Miller “When you are given a two seed, you’re viewed as one of the top eight teams in the tournament, and it is up to us to make that true.”
Arizona completed their revenge tour with a 83-80 victory over Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament championship. The wildcats avenged a 27 point loss suffered at the hands of Oregon earlier on in the season. It was once again Allonzo Trier, the Wildcats star guard, who propelled the team to victory with his 23 points and 8 rebounds. Oregon was without their best rim protector Chris Boucher, who suffered an ACL tear in their semi-final matchup against California. This did not slow down the high paced Ducks attack, with guards Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey both putting up more than 20 points.
This tournament championship comes after Arizona had faced a number of setbacks early on in the season. Trier, the Wildcats leading scorer, was suspended for the first 19 games of the season for PED use. This suspension led experts to believe Arizona would struggle early on in the season. Yet, the Wildcats battled hard and posted a 17-2 record without the help of Trier.
Miller said he is proud of the way his team has fought this season.
“Our guys deserve a lot of credit. We’ve hung in from the very beginning of the school year until now. It hasn’t just been one guy or one moment, different people have stepped up along the way.” said Miller in an interview after the Pac-12 championship “Of all the teams that I have been a part of this ranks up there, because we have fought so hard and overcome so much to be able to win.”
It will not be an easy task for Sean Miller to make his first final four as a head coach, as the West region is loaded with talented basketball teams. Gonzaga (1 seed), West Virginia (4 seed), and Notre Dame (5 seed) have all been popular picks to upset Arizona and disrupt their path to Phoenix. It will be up to the trio of Trier, forward Lauri Markanen, and guard Kadeem Allen to guide their team to victory.
The Wildcats will walk in to the NCAA tournament with a 30-4 record, fully equipped, and hungry to prove to the country they are the best in the field of 68.