After just one sunny weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Arizona Wildcats may have played themselves back on to the NCAA tournament bubble.
A month of regular-season and Pac-12 tournament games remain - including a critical matchup with Colorado on Thursday at McKale Center - but consider this:
• Arizona's RPI improved from 85 to 62 after the Wildcats beat Stanford and California last weekend, according to the official NCAA figures updated Monday. With 37 at-large bids available, a No. 62 rating can merit at-large consideration. USC took one of the final NCAA tournament bids last season with an RPI of 67.
• The Wildcats improved to No. 42 in the Sagarin ratings, a power rating also believed to hold weight with the NCAA tournament selection committee. The Wildcats have a 1-4 record against Top 50 Sagarin teams, the lone win coming at California.
• Kenpom.com places the Wildcats with a No. 38 rating.
The bracket projections
(Among those with updated projections Monday)
• ESPN's Bracketology moved Arizona into its 68-team projected bracket as one of its last four teams, assigning the Wildcats a first-round (play-in) game in Dayton, Ohio, against Minnesota for the right to continue as a No. 12 seed.
• Sporting News lists Arizona and Colorado among its "bubble boys" as the top teams just outside the field.
• Yahoo's Bracket Big Board has Arizona, Oregon and Stanford as its bubble teams not quite in the field.
• While SB Nation's Blogging the Bracket did not list Arizona in its first eight teams out of the field, it noted that "perhaps Sean Miller's team will continue to be a factor for both an NCAA bid and the conference crown, even with Kevin Parrom lost for the season."
Arizona's schedule is favorable the rest of the season. Five of the Wildcats' remaining seven games are against teams below them in the league standings, including home games against struggling Utah and USC. Arizona will get another crack at first-place Washington on Feb. 18 in Seattle and have a chance to avenge its one-point Jan. 21 loss at Colorado on Thursday at McKale.
If the Wildcats can hold serve at home against the mountain schools this weekend and against the Los Angeles schools in two weeks, they will have 20 wins. Add a win in one of three road games and maybe one in the Pac-12 Tournament, and UA could finish with 21 or more wins and a respectable nonconference strength of schedule.
But with Colorado looming Thursday, there's no time for the Wildcats to waste. As UA coach Sean Miller frequently says about his team, and as the numbers indicate, there's little margin for error.