The brackets are out and once again, the Arizona Wildcats are right in the thick of March Madness.
After finishing 25-8, 12-6 on the season good for fourth in the Pac-12 conference, Arizona was named a six seed in the South Region and will take on the winner of Vanderbilt and Wichita State who play in one of the first four in games Tuesday night.
“Right now we’re full-speed ahead learning all we can about who we’re going to play,” Miller said Sunday evening. “We’re preparing for both teams right now.”
The Wildcats finished the season 26th in the country in RPI with an offensive rating of 113.6 (21st in the nation) and a 96.5 defensive defensive rating (36th in the nation). Arizona was led this season by Ryan Anderson who was a first team all-conference selection averaging 15.5 points and 10.1 rebounds. Gabe York finished the season strong shooting 42.5 percent from behind the arc and the increasinglt great play of all-freshman guard Allonzo Trier. Their opening round game will be played in Providence, RI on Thursday at 6:20 MST.
“Whoever we’re playing,” Miller said. “Whether it be Wichita State or Vanderbilt–everybody respects those programs, especially us.”
Wichita State was somewhat snubbed in this selection as a play-in team and an 11 seed after a season that saw them go 24-8 on the season, were pre-season ranked 10 by the AP and were ranked as high as ninth over the course of the season. They are paced by 6-4 senior guard Ron Baker who has as much great tournament experience with what the Shockers have been able to accomplish as a mid-major the last few seasons averaging 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds on the year. Fred van Fleet a major difference maker as well.
The Shockers had one of the better RPI’s this season amongst mid-majors at 48 with wins in the non-conference over UNLV and Utah and neutral court losses to USC and Alabama. They come in as an at-large bid after falling to Northern Iowa in overtime of the Missouri Valley Conference’s tournament championship game.
Vanderbilt out of the SEC is Wichita State’s opponent on Tuesday night who finished the year 3rd in the conference with a 19-13 record under head coach Kevin Stallings. Like the Shockers, the Commodores are lead by a dynamic guard in sophomore Wade Baldwin who averaged 14.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists this season. They have a load inside as well with 6-10 junior center Damian Jones.
Vandy finished the season with a RPI of 61 with a wins over Texas A&M early in conference play and Kentucky late in the season plus have notable losses to Kansas, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M and Purdue.
Also in the south region on the Wildcats’ side of the bracket, if Arizona wins, they’ll play the winner of #3 Miami and #14 Buffalo. Villanova is the two seed with #7 Iowa and #10 Temple facing off in the first round. The South overall is loaded with Kansas as the number one seed with Maryland and California the four and five seeds at the top of the bracket.
The Pac-12 overall had a record seven bids into the tournament. All of which are seeded eighth or higher.