After two months of scouting Pac-12 opponents they are already intimately familiar with, the UA game scouts have it a bit tougher this week.
Damon Stoudamire was assigned to scout Weber State, while Book Richardson is breaking down Gonzaga and Joe Pasternack has Oklahoma State. That way, the rest of the Arizona Wildcats can stay focused for Weber State and, if they win that game, immediately be briefed on their next opponent once the Gonzaga-Oklahoma State game ends.
Stoudamire said he watched video of Weber’s Big Sky games but found the one game against a common opponent, UCLA, to be particularly valuable.
“I just look at it from a standpoint of what they might do to us,” Stoudamire said. “Defensively they’re a man (to man) team but we’d be naïve to think they might not try some zone against us. But that’s not who they are.”
“They cut hard and they run a lot of ball screens and pindowns and a lot of misdirection for their bigs,” Stoudamire said. “They have a solid team. They won their conference, had a player of the year in Berry shooting a high percentage from three and free throw line so we must contain him.”
Weber State also has a number of other capable shooters plus some stretch-four type players off the bench, plus an active big man in Joe Bolumboy, who averages 10.8 rebounds a game.
Berry has thrived on discipline at Weber State.
Sports Illustrated put Nick Johnson and the Zona Zoo on its regional cover of its tourney preview issue.
In case you're worried that's a jinx, consider that SI is also producing five other regional covers this week: Ones for Michigan State, Syracuse, Florida, Wichita State and the UConn women.
That said, an SI edition with a story entitled "Gritty Point Guard T.J. McConnell has helped Arizona reach No. 1" hit the stands in the week before the Wildcats lost at Cal and lost Brandon Ashley for the season. Just sayin' ...
So maybe you've heard the doubts about UA from Jay Bilas and Clark Kellogg, but how about Nate Silver? His analytics, which incorporate the travel factor, put the Wildcats as the clear favorite to win the West Region, with a 42.4 percent chance of doing so to reach the Final Four.
Barack Obama picked UA to make the Final Four, too.
Lot of betting sentiment on Arizona. The Wildcats opened as a 14.5-point favorite against Weber State but that number is now up to 19.5 or 20 points, according to VegasInsider.com.
Another prediction machine calculates Weber State's chances of upsetting Arizona at 14 percent, the second-highest odds it has ever given a No. 16 seed, and gives UA only a 51-percent chance of making the Sweet 16.
Online casino Bovada has Arizona at 8-1 to win the NCAA title.
Draft Express says NBA scouts are crossing their fingers for an Arizona-Oklahoma State game, so they can see what Marcus Smart will do against the Wildcats' defense.
Archie Miller has found passion for Dayton basketball is somewhat comparable to that of Ohio State football.
James Whitford finished up his first season at Ball State at 5-25, and determined to upgrade his talent.
Stanley Johnson said goodbye to Mater Dei's home gym with a 38-point performance.
Utah blew a 10-point second half lead and ended its season with a first-round NIT loss at Saint Mary's.
Here's a surprise: The Ducks are getting new shoes for the NCAA tournament.
JaQuan Lyle may be an Oregon lean.
Stanford has a tough matchup ahead with New Mexico.
Steve Alford says he thinks UCLA is playing its best basketball of the season.