Top-seeded Wildcats could face Duke in NIT Tip-Off final

2013-09-17T12:13:00Z 2013-09-17T12:32:58Z Top-seeded Wildcats could face Duke in NIT Tip-Off finalBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 17, 2013 12:13 pm  • 

Those of you who don't get the Friday after Thanksgiving off might want to at least try to get finished early: If the just-finalized NIT Tip-Off plays out to form, the top-seeded Arizona Wildcats will face No. 2 Duke at 4 p.m. on Nov. 29 in the championship game at Madison Square Garden.

Even though Duke, Arizona, Alabama and Rutgers had already been announced as top seeds -- and it was widely assumed that the bracketing would be structured to allow for a Duke-Arizona final -- the brackets and early round games were not formalized until the NCAA released the entire tournament bracket today.

The Wildcats will open with Fairleigh Dickinson on Nov. 18 while Division II Metro State (Mike Dunlap's old team) and Rhode Island will play in the other half of the doubleheader at McKale Center.

The winners of those games will meet on Nov. 19, and if the Wildcats win both of their games, they will advance to New York for a semifinal game against the winner of the Rutgers pod. The winner of that game will then face a team from either the Duke or Alabama pods for the championship.

Of course, there's no guarantee Arizona will face Duke or even make it to New York, as the Wildcats learned in 2008-09 when they were banished to Athens, Ga., for consolation games. But the Wildcats are obviously better-equipped now than they were that season, when Russ Pennell and Dunlap took over for the suddenly retired Lute Olson and eventually took the Wildcats to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen along with the NBA-bound Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill.

Pennell, incidentally, will begin the WNBA playoffs with the Mercury on Thursday.

Former Louisville commit JaQuan Lyle told Scout he will visit Arizona (subscription required for the link) on Oct. 11 (Red Blue Game weekend) as part of a post-decommitment tour that also includes Connecticut, Kansas and Memphis.

FWIW, Cliff Alexander's mom says her son said he will play college ball with Lyle.

Stanley Johnson's travel ball coach says Johnson was glad to see Tyler Ulis commit to Kentucky.

USC's Andy Enfield figures he can use his big men to set ball screens in his flashy offense.

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