Arizona Basketball

A look at Arizona Wildcats’ NCAA tournament history of playing NBA first-round picks same year



Duke’s Kyrie Irving is the only No. 1 draft pick to play Arizona in the NCAA tournament the same year as his selection and the Wildcats beat the Blue Devils 93-77 in the 2011 Sweet 16 (YouTube video capture)

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With Arizona playing probable lottery pick D’Angelo Russell of Ohio State today in the NCAA tournament, the question begged: How many NBA first-round selections have the Wildcats faced in March Madness?

The number is 31 although Kentucky’s Derek Anderson, who missed the 1997 championship with a torn ACL, was the 13th player selected overall in the draft that year.

Some data:

— Arizona is 14-17 in NCAA tournament games involving games against first-round draft choices that same year.

— Against players taken among the top 12 picks (generally the lottery) the Wildcats are 5-13.

— Arizona has fared well in terms of holding the first-round pick below his scoring average. Only 10 of the 31 first-rounders surpassed their season scoring average against Arizona.

— The first-rounders who played the best against the Wildcats were Duke’s Kyrie Irving (28 points in 2011), Kansas’ Kirk Hinrich (28 points in 2003), Oklahoma State’s Joey Graham (26 points in 2005), Villanova’s Randy Foye (24 points in 2006), UCLA’s Richard Washington (22 points in 1976) and Illinois’ Deron Williams (22 points in 2005).

The complete list:


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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:


NBA FIRST-ROUND PICKS VS. ARIZONA IN NCAA TOURNAMENT SAME YEAR DRAFTED graphic. Points reflects against Arizona in the NCAA tournament game. Average is season average from that season. *-Denotes freshman.
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[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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