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ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi has Arizona as a No. 5 seed — a fair assessment — playing No. 12 seed Akron in Oklahoma City in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The opposite side of that bracket has No. 4 Duke playing No. 13 Stephen F. Austin. How about another March Madness matchup with Mike Krzyzewski, this time in the second round after playing the Blue Devils in the 2001 title game and 2011 Sweet 16?
CBS bracketologist Jerry Palm has Arizona as a No. 4 seed, perhaps a bit high because of the Wildcats’ No. 25 RPI ranking as of today. Usually a No. 4 seed is among the top 20 RPI teams. Palm forecasts Arizona playing No. 13 seed South Dakota State in Denver. The potential second-round opponent according to Palm is No. 5 seed Texas A&M or No. 12 seed Akron.
Depending on how the remaining conference tournament championships shake out, Arizona’s seed could fluctuate any where between the No. 4 and No. 6 seeds. In my opinion, Sean Miller’s team will be either at No. 5 or No. 6 with its 25-8 overall record, 1-4 mark against RPI top 25 teams and a strength-of-schedule ranking of No. 102.
The following is a list of who Arizona might face in the first and second rounds based on a No. 4 through No. 6 seed using the teams forecast by Lunardi and Palm:
No. 13 seeds (potential first-round opponent if Arizona is a No. 4 seed):
Lunardi — Stephen F. Austin, Chattanooga, Northern Iowa or Stony Brook
Palm — Yale, Stony Brook, Northern Iowa or South Dakota State
No. 12 seeds (potential first-round opponent if Arizona is a No. 5 seed):
Lunardi — Arkansas-Little Rock, Yale, Akron or South Dakota State
Palm — Arkansas-Little Rock, Chattanooga, North Carolina-Wilmington or Akron
No. 11 seeds (potential first-round opponent if Arizona is a No. 6 seed):
Lunardi — San Diego State, South Carolina, St. Mary’s, Gonzaga, Monmouth or Connecticut
Palm — Michigan, Wichita State, Monmouth, Syracuse, Gonzaga or San Diego State
No. 5 seeds (potential second-round opponent if Arizona is a No. 4 seed):
Lunardi — Maryland or Iowa State (Lists Arizona and Cal as No. 5 seeds)
Palm — Iowa State, Kentucky or Texas A&M (Lists Cal as No. 5 seed)
No. 4 seeds (potential second-round opponent if Arizona is a No. 5 seed):
Lunardi — Duke, Indiana, Texas A&M or Purdue
Palm — Duke, Indiana or Maryland (Lists Arizona as No. 4 seed)
No. 3 seeds (potential second-round opponent if Arizona is a No. 6 seed):
Lunardi — Kentucky, Xavier or Miami (Lists Utah as No. 3 seed)
Palm — Miami, Purdue, Xavier or North Carolina
Obviously, it is to Arizona’s advantage to be a No. 4 or 5 seed. The level of difficulty greatly increases in the first round as a No. 6 seed. Do you think Arizona envies a matchup against San Diego State, Gonzaga, Syracuse, UConn or Wichita State in the first round? Also as a No. 6 seed, Arizona has the possibility of playing teams like Kentucky, Xavier, North Carolina or Miami in the second round.
No matter if Arizona is a No. 4, 5 or 6 seed, the Wildcats will face a major test in the second round if they survive the first round. A way to look at it, especially this year with the parity, if Arizona survives to the Sweet 16, the Wildcats can handle the challenge of advancing to the next round and so on.
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Tough loss tonight but all our team can do is keep our heads high and play as hard as we possibly can in these next couple weeks
All my brother with me … All my brother with me … All my brothers balling … All my brothers athletic!
ICYMI: Arizona's Mark Tollesfen met the media in the locker room with clear eyes and a level head: https://t.co/wx23D2tZ7j
Unexpected note on Arizona: Wildcats 0-7 when the lower seed in P12 Tournament, only school without a win under those circumstances. #ELIAS
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.