Arizona May Need Win Over ASU Tomorrow to Get to Big Dance
Time was that the Arizona Wildcats hated the Pac-10 postseason basketball tournament with a passion. That was when the `Cats routinely dominated league play, finishing first or second seemingly every year after now-retired Lute Olson revved up the program in the mid-1980s.
Olson and his minions considered the tourney an unnecessary trifle, something the league's lesser lights must endure to fight their way into the 64-team NCAA Championship -- the Big Dance.
But that, as they say, was then, and this is now.
Tomorrow at high noon, Arizona and Nic Wise (pictured) will do battle with archrival ASU at Staples Center in Los Angeles in a first-round game with much deeper potential repercussions for the `Cats than for the Sun Devils.
ASU seems to have forged its place in the NCAA tourney by virtue of its fourth-place finish in the Pac-10 and its 22-win season. But Arizona is on the proverbial bubble, having won 19 games (including a few biggies) en route to a fifth-place finish in a very tough league.
Many pundits are saying that Arizona needs to beat the Devils tomorrow to ensure its 25th straight NCAA tournament bid--a remarkable achievement.
A victory is anything but a given.
ASU nipped Arizona twice this season, including last month's thrilling 3-point win in Tempe after the Wildcats had come from way down in the second half to take a late lead.
The teams are very close in talent, with future NBAers dotting each lineup. We're betting that scrappy point guard Nic Wise, one of our favorites, will have a big role in the outcome.
Should be a good one, so good that we'll be making the trek to LA in the morning to watch it firsthand.
Those stuck back here in Valley can watch the game on Channel 34 (FSN) or listen on KTAR-620, where the always excellent Tim Healey will be making the call.