2015 NCAA tournament preview: Arizona Wildcats

Arizona Wildcats

Record: 31-3, 16-2 Pac-12

Head coach: Sean Miller (6th season)

Season summary: The Wildcats didn't receive as much national attention playing in a weaker Pac-12, but plowed through their conference schedule and won 17 of their last 18 games heading into NCAA tournament play. Arizona's biggest win of the season came all the way back on Dec. 6, when the Wildcats topped Gonzaga in a 66-63 overtime thriller. Other key victories for the Wildcats include Utah (twice), Oregon (three times), San Diego State and UCLA (twice).

Arizona's starting lineup is a matchup problem by definition, featuring a point guard, three lengthy forwards and a center. The Wildcats are by no means a good three-point shooting team, but they can attack the rim better than anyone in the country and enter the Big Dance ranked sixth in the nation in field goal percentage. It all starts with forward Stanley Johnson (14.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG), who was recently named a USBWA Freshman All-American and is an explosive force on the wing. Sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (10.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG) gives Arizona scary length on the perimeter. Senior guard T.J. McConnell (9.8 PPG, 6.4 APG) runs the offense with ease, and has a stocked arsenal of post weapons in forward Brandon Ashley (12.3 PPG) and 7-footers Kaleb Tarczewski and Dusan Ristic.

As the No. 2 seed in the West Region, pundits are giving the Wildcats as good a chance as any to reach the Final Four, and a potential Elite Eight showdown with No. 1 seed Wisconsin—a rematch of last year's thriller in Los Angeles—is already being billed as the tournament's must-see matchup.

How they make a run: Arizona's offense runs like clockwork and the team's bevy of big bodies wears down opponents inside night after night until the team cuts down the nets.

How they falter: The Wildcat bigs suffer from foul trouble and a fast-paced offensive opponent jumps out to an early lead, leaving Arizona left with only its mediocre three-point shooting to catch up.


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