Arizona heads into the postseason playing in the Pac-12 tournament this week still ranked among the top 16 seeds of the NCAA tournament, which means the Wildcats continue to be in position to be a host of the first and second rounds.
The Wildcats (23-6) are ranked No. 14 in the final top 16 seed reveal by the NCAA tournament selection committee that was announced on ESPN2 tonight during halftime of the South Florida at UConn game. They are slated right now as a No. 4 seed of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Regional with No. 1 Maryland, No. 2 Louisville and No. 3 Gonzaga.
The No. 14 ranking means that if the Wildcats hold that seed or move up following the Pac-12 tournament, they will host the first and second round games from March 20-23.
Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said last week that the school has put in a bid with the NCAA to host the first two rounds.
“Hosting (in the NCAA tournament) for us is a big deal because we will sell out McKale,” Barnes said during her weekly radio show Monday night. “It will be a very tough environment to play in. It’s important versus going on the road when you have 20 people and everybody else that (with the tournament being) more regional, they’re going to have a lot of people.
“It’s really important for your success in the NCAA tournament.”
Arizona finished the regular season 23-6 after beating No. 4 Stanford on Friday and losing to the Pac-12’s last place team, California, on Sunday. The Wildcats play Friday in a quarterfinal game (12:30 p.m.) of the Pac-12 tournament at the Mandalay Bay Events Center at Las Vegas. They will face the winner of Thursday’s opening-round matchup of No. 5 ASU and No. 12 California.
Barnes said during her show that a win in the Pac-12 tournament is important for her team to keep the hope alive to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament.
“The key is we need to get the first game,” Barnes said. “I think (it would cinch landing hosting bid in the NCAA tournament) because I think it would have been a different situation if we did sweep last weekend (against Stanford and Cal). If we beat Cal, (it would be) different.
“You can’t get upset again because that would be getting upset three times (including at Colorado two weeks ago) in the last two weeks. That shows your team is not peaking at the right time. A win is very important for those things.”
The Wildcats’ home attendance in the regular season was 95,098 with an average of 5,944 in their 16 games at McKale Center. They finished second in the Pac-12 in attendance in the regular season behind Oregon (10,582 average) and ahead of Oregon State (5,902).
Oregon, No. 3 in the NCAA seeding reveal, and Oregon State, No. 15, are in position to also host the first two rounds.
Arizona remained ranked at No. 13 in the AP Top 25 poll that was released earlier today.
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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.