Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats’ Path to Pac-12 Tournament Title Not Impossible with Conference Down

This is Arizona’s potential path to the Pac-12 tournament title game:

Playing a USC team that has lost four consecutive games and seven of its last nine. Also, when Arizona was routed in Los Angeles by the Trojans, the Wildcats did not have Chase Jeter because of a back injury.

If it beats the Trojans at noon on Wednesday, Arizona could then face top-seed Washington, which has faltered as of late. The Huskies have lost two of their last four games, including an inexplicable defeat to the worst team in the conference, Cal. They scored only 47 points in a loss at home to Oregon on Saturday night.

If the Wildcats survive the Huskies, they could face either Oregon State, California or Colorado in the Pac-12 semifinals. Arizona is 5-1 against those schools this season.

That leaves the Pac-12 title if Arizona gets by the Trojans, Huskies and let’s say Beavers. On the other side of the bracket are the more difficult teams in numbers with ASU and Oregon — both of which swept the Wildcats this season. Utah is formidable winning three of its last four games averaging 89 points in those wins. UCLA, with its talent, can always be dangerous.

So, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Arizona to at least reach the title game. It is also possible that the Trojans handle the Wildcats on Wednesday, effectively ending Arizona’s season. Arizona coach Sean Miller insinuated that the Wildcats are not rated high enough to even make the NIT field.

Miller was asked after yesterday’s 72-64 loss to ASU about what it would take to have a magical run.

“I think the number one thing for us is we’re not going to beat any team if we turn the ball over,” Miller said. “We have too many other problems. If you play with 10 or fewer, that’s a great stat and you can overcome some deficiencies.

“I think rekindling our ability to handle the ball and play with single-digit turnovers, 10 or fewer, that’s a big deal. From a defensive perspective, as the season has grown, and we’ve gotten deep into February and March, physically the size, the weight, the depth, it favors the biggest, strongest and deepest teams. I know that because we’ve been on that side of the coin quite a bit.

“You can really wear down a team with a short bench or that are playing younger players, maybe physically are not as strong or as gifted. This year, that’s one of our problems. Being able to play without fouling, and being really tough defensively, it’s difficult right now for us to get big stops. That combination of turnovers plus that makes it hard for us to win.”

Could Miller’s games at Arizona be numbered?

A lot of discussion among fans and media took place after Miller’s speech to the McKale Center crowd following Senior Day festivities.

“It has been an amazing honor to coach in McKale Center for the last 10 years,” he said. “Thank you for everything.”

In the press conference after, the Arizona Daily Star’s Bruce Pascoe asked Miller if the speech casts doubt on his future at Arizona.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” Miller said.

What do you think? Answer this informal poll on whether you believe Miller is coming back or if he is gone after this season ends.

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