Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sizing Up The Arizona Wildcats

Purdue will face Arizona in the 8 vs 9 matchup Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Arizona, one of the most dominant programs in all of college basketball, is having a down year by their standards. They are coached by the legendary Lute Olsen, who has 4 Final Four appearances and 1 National Title to his credit. Arizona is a very dangerous and talented 8 seed, with no one giving Purdue much of a chance.

Conference: Pac-10
Record: 20-10, 11-7 in conference
RPI: 14
How They Got In: At-large

Arizona started the season strong by knocking off tournament teams UNLV, Illinois, Louisville, Memphis, & Stanford. They were 12-1 (3-0) at that point and ranked #7 in the country. Once the Pac-10 regular season got going they weren't able to build off their early season momentum. Their only 2 big wins during that time came @ Oregon and @ Stanford.

Arizona endured somewhat of a brutal Pac-10 season by their standards, losing twice to Washington State, USC, & UCLA. The Wildcats exited the Pac-10 tournament in the first round with a 19 point loss to Oregon, marking the second defeat at the hands of the Ducks this season. The ugliest loss by far was a 92-64 shellacking at home courtesy of North Carolina.

Arizona is led statistically by Marcus Williams, a sophomore shooting guard who averages 18 point per game. The key to an Arizona win might be the play of Mustafa Shakur, their senior point guard who averages 14 points and 7 assists a contest. The Arizona coaches feel that Shakur isn't playing his best basketball right now and needs to set the tone for their team as a senior who's been there before.