Arizona Men's Basketball 2013 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Arizona Wildcats
Pac-12 (25-7, 12-6)

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Arizona’s best win of the season came December 15 against the Florida Gators. This stands as a home win against the (at the time) 5th ranked team in the nation. What the resume-building victory does not explain is how Arizona had no business winning this game. There is no reasonable basketball aficionado who would even grant that Arizona is better than Florida even though they have the head to head win. Thus, the Wildcats’ season catapulted on shaky ground. However, Arizona wasn’t done with season-defining wins; not by a long shot. They beat Miami less than two weeks later followed the very next game by a win over #17 San Diego State. Coupled with a very impressive season in the Pac-12, it would be easy to peg Arizona as one of the elite schools in the country. The underlying numbers, however, say otherwise.

Big Wins: 12/15 Florida (65-64), 12/23 vs Miami (FL) (69-50), 1/31 at Washington (57-53)
Bad Losses: 1/10 at Oregon (66-70), 2/10 California (69-77), 2/27 at USC (78-89)
Coach: Sean Miller (4 seasons at Arizona)

Why They Can Surprise:
As described, UA can show up with remarkable performances against upper echelon teams. Their comeback in the waning seconds of the Florida game was uncanny. I watched it happen and I still don’t believe they won the ballgame. Led by senior guard Mark Lyons, Arizona has six men who all can score and shoot. After transferring from Xavier, Lyons had perhaps his best season in college, leading the Wildcats in scoring and shooting pretty well from the floor and an amazing 85.5 percent from the line. The other four main contributors to Arizona’s offense also shoot well from the foul line (each over 70 percent) and from the floor (with Lyons the only one under 44 percent). These five men (Lyons, Solomon Hill, Nick Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Kevin Parrom) share the entire statistical load rather remarkably. All rebound the ball well for their respective positions; with the exception of Ashley, they all share the basketball and wrack up assists while having a nice stroke from the three point line; and everyone keeps their turnovers low making Arizona one of the most well-rounded teams in the country as far as their star player compared to their fifth and sixth man.

Why They Can Disappoint:
Now, to pick apart everything else and explain why this team will not do well in the NCAA tournament: sure they beat #5 Florida but they were down six points with one minute left in that ballgame. Florida had controlled the first 39 minutes of the contest. Sure they spread around the scoring and have lots of players contributing but there is no go-to man on this roster and they rely on heavy minutes from three freshmen. The best of these freshmen, forward Brandon Ashley, is perhaps the most inconsistent player in the conference. He had multiple games where he notched a double-double. He also had multiple games where he scored fewer than two points and/or grabbed fewer than three rebounds. Said another way, Brandon Ashley was prone to disappear too often this season. Sure three of Arizona’s top guys collect a handful of assists each ballgame but, as a team, Arizona is one of the worst in the country in assists and their assists to turnover ratio is just about 1 to 1. Sure they get contributions from lots of different players but, come tournament time, relying on nine players means you can’t rely on anyone. If Kaleb Tarczewski is the Wildcats’ fifth best player while playing only around 20 minutes per game, will he be able to play 31 in a tournament game? Will he even be as good playing that many more minutes? If he cannot function efficiently in more playing time, how high is Arizona’s ceiling when their eighth and ninth men are needed for 10-12 minutes each and every game? It is hard to see them advancing very far without more of that Florida game magic.

Probable Starters:
Mark Lyons, Senior, Guard, 14.8 ppg, 3.0 apg
Nick Johnson, Sophomore, Guard, 11.7 ppg, 3.2 apg
Kevin Parrom, Senior, Guard, 8.3 ppg, 1.9 apg, 4.9 rpg
Solomon Hill, Senior, Forward, 13.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.8 apg
Kaleb Tarczewski, Freshman, Center, 6.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Jordin Mayes, Junior, Guard, 2.7 ppg
Brandon Ashley, Freshman, Forward, 7.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Grant Jerrett, Freshman, Forward, 5.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Angelo Chol, Sophomore, Forward, 1.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.4 (50th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.4 (94, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.0 (87, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (116, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.6 (48, 1)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.3 (69, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.4 (30, 2)
Rebound Margin: 6.3 (22, 2)
Assists Per Game: 13.7 (117, 6)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.2 (168, 7)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
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

*all team stats through 3/10


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules