NCAA March Madness Preview – Arizona Wildcats

 Arizona Wildcats

Pac-12 (30-4, 16-2)

by Jacob Young

Arizona enters the NCAA tournament looking to erase last year’s first round exit from their memory. Sean Miller led his team to consecutive Elite Eight appearances before last season’s early departure. Between injuries and suspension, Arizona has had a tough time getting their full squad on the court together this season. Despite losing Ray Smith before the season even started, not having star forward Allonzo Trier until late January and having three other rotation players suffer injuries throughout the season, Sean Miller has done an outstanding job guiding this team to a 30-4 record and a Pac-12 championship.

Big Wins: 11/11 vs Michigan State (65-63), 1/19 at USC (73-66), 1/21 at UCLA (96-85)

Bad Losses: 11/25 vs Butler (65-69), 12/3 vs Gonzaga (62-69), 2/25 UCLA (72-77)

Coach: Sean Miller

Why They Can Surprise:

Arizona is one of the more well-rounded teams heading into the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats have six players averaging more than nine points per contest. Strong guard play is crucial to success in March and the Wildcats have two upperclassmen manning the backcourt for them in Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Projected lottery pick Lauri Markkanen is a versatile forward that can score from anywhere on the floor. As a team, Arizona shoots 39.0 percent from three and they have become more of a threat from the perimeter since Allonzo Trier returned from suspension. They also shoot 76.5 percent from the free-throw line, which is a valuable strength to have during the tournament. Arizona is stingy on the defensive end as well, as they’ve only allowed 64.3 points per game this season.

 Why They Can Disappoint:

It’s not easy to find weaknesses in this team, but a good place to start is their 85-58 beat down at the hands of Oregon in February. The Ducks shot a ridiculous 65% from the floor in that game and showed that Arizona’s defense can be vulnerable. Even in their big win at UCLA, Arizona allowed 85 points to the Bruins. Also, even though Arizona shoots a high percentage from three, the Wildcats don’t attempt many outside shots and can become too dependent on succeeding in the paint. If they are matched up with a long, physical team, then Arizona could struggle to score.

Probable Starters:

Kadeem Allen, Senior, Guard, 9.7 ppg, 3.1 apg, 4.1 rpg, 1.5 spg
Allonzo Trier, Sophomore, Guard, 17.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 5.0 rpg
Rawle Alkins, Freshman, Guard, 11.0 ppg, 2.0 apg, 5.1 rpg
Lauri Markkanen, Freshman, Forward, 15.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg
Dusan Ristic, Junior, Center, 10.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg

 Key Role Players:

Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Junior, Guard, 5.9 ppg, 4.2 apg
Kobi Simmons, Freshman, Guard, 9.2 ppg, 2.1 apg
Chance Comanche, Sophomore, Forward, 6.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg
Keanu Pinder, Junior, Forward, 2.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 75.2 (124th in nation, 8th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 64.3 (28, 2)

Field-Goal Percentage: 46.9 (55, 4)

Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (63, 4)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (249, 9)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.0 (26, 2)

Free-Throw Percentage: 76.5 (19, 1)

Rebound Margin: 6.9 (19, 3)

Assists Per Game: 13.8 (153, 7)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (39, 3)

Recent Postseason Appearances:

2016    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Wichita State

2015    NCAA Round of 64 win over Texas Southern

2015    NCAA Round of 32  win over Ohio State

2015    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Wisconsin

2014    NCAA Round of 64 win over Weber State

2014    NCAA Round of 32 win over Gonzaga

2014    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over San Diego State

2014    NCAA Regional Final loss to Wisconsin

2013    NCAA Round of 64 win over Belmont

2013    NCAA Round of 32 win over Harvard

2013    NCAA Regional semifinal loss to Ohio State

2012    NIT     First Round loss to Bucknell

2011    NCAA Round of 64 win over Memphis

2011    NCAA Round of 32 win over Texas

2011    NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Duke

2011    NCAA Regional Final loss to Connecticut

2009    NCAA Round of 64 win over Utah

2009    NCAA Round of 32 win over Cleveland State

2009    NCAA Regional Semifinal loss to Louisville

2008    NCAA Round of 64 loss to West Virginia

2007    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Purdue

2006    NCAA Round of 64 win over Wisconsin

2006    NCAA Round of 32 loss to Villanova

*all team stats through 3/5

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