UA HOOPS

Arizona basketball: UA slips to 18th in polls, may not get seed in West

2013-03-05T00:00:00Z Arizona basketball: UA slips to 18th in polls, may not get seed in WestBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Thanks to their front-loaded success this season, the Arizona Wildcats oddly could be a No. 4 seed in both the Pac-12 and NCAA basketball tournaments.

The Wildcats (23-6) dropped to fourth place in the conference race after losing at USC and UCLA last week, and they fell to No. 18 in both major polls Monday.

But while the Cats haven't beaten a likely NCAA tournament-bound team in two months, their postseason résumé remains strong, partly because they beat highly rated Miami and Florida in December.

UA has an RPI of 13 and a Sagarin power rating of 25, suggesting a seeding in the 4 to 6 range.

Many bracket projections have the Wildcats seeded on the better end of that range, too: CBS's Jerry Palm gives them a No. 3 seed, and a compilation done by the Bracket Project says the average seed given UA on Monday was 3.75. (ESPN's "Bracketology" had UA at No. 4 in its last update, before the UA-UCLA game).

Arizona has been projected as high as a No. 2 seed this season, but coach Sean Miller said Saturday he didn't know if the Cats were good enough to justify a No. 2.

"We may have played for a large part of the season at that level," Miller said, "but at the end of the day … you look at us and we're probably not one of the top eight teams in the country. Maybe we're one of the top 25.

"I think for us it's just about finishing strong and keeping things in perspective."

Regardless of their seeding, however, the Wildcats' losses in Los Angeles might keep them from getting an opportunity to return there for the West Region semifinals and finals.

Unless the Wildcats do well in the Pac-12 Tournament, the NCAA selection committee could put the league champ in the West over Arizona - since a conference's top three teams are usually sent to different regions.

That means UA may not have a chance to play a Sweet 16 game at the Staples Center in L.A. if it were able to win its first two NCAA tournament games.

But Miller said all that isn't worth worrying about now.

"We're not playing well enough to think in those terms," he said. "For us, it's so much about the next game and being ready for Arizona State."

While California is the Pac-12's hottest team, and UCLA and Oregon are tied for first place, all three of them are being projected to receive worse seeds than Arizona. UCLA and Cal both averaged just better than a No. 7 seed in Bracket Project compilations while Cal averaged nearly a 10 seed.

In the NCAA's official RPI, Colorado is the second-highest Pac-12 team at No. 27, while UCLA is 30 and first-place Cal (43) and Oregon (49) are even lower on the list.

In the Sagarin ratings, UCLA is 39, Cal is 43 and Oregon is 44.

While the polls are not a factor in NCAA tournament seeding, the Wildcats dropped from No. 11 to its No. 18 spot. Oregon was just behind at 19, while UCLA was ranked No. 23.

Rare road sweep

The last time Arizona was swept in a weekend pair of Pac-12 Conference games was also during the second-to-last weekend of the 2010-11 season - and also in Los Angeles - before the Wildcats went on to the Elite Eight.

The difference was that UA entered that trip with an eight-game winning streak and quickly regained its momentum afterward. The Wildcats returned home to beat Oregon State and Oregon, clinching the Pac-10 regular season championship, and then reached the final of the conference tournament before losing to Washington in overtime. Arizona went on to win three NCAA tournament games.

Overall, the Wildcats have lost two Pac-12 games in a weekend only three times during Miller's four seasons - the 2010-11 and 2012-13 trips to Los Angeles and a 2009-10 trip to Washington and WSU.

UCLA's Anderson honored

After scoring 15 of his 17 points in the first half of UCLA's win over Arizona on Saturday, and scoring 21 against Arizona State three days earlier, Bruins forward Kyle Anderson was named the Pac-12's Player of the Week.

Arizona had nominated senior wing Kevin Parrom, who averaged 13.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and shot 64.3 percent during the Wildcats' losses at USC and UCLA. Parrom, who jumped into the Wildcats' starting lineup on Feb. 17 at Utah, has scored in double figures for three straight games.

Up next

• Who: ASU at No. 18 Arizona

• Where: McKale Center

• When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday

• TV: FSAZ

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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