What they're saying Part II: UA vs. Belmont

Thursday's game between Arizona and Belmont seems to be a trendy upset pick. Read on to see what the media and players are saying about it.

"It's nice to be picked as an upset, but we have to be prepared to fight. Mentally, we have to make sure we're prepared to do what we do. We're all excited and happy to be in the tournament again. But this group, we don't want that to be the lasting legacy.

"We want to be the group that gets that first W in the tournament. That's the next step, the next challenge. We want to be that group to get it over the top. Come Thursday, we'll see if we have enough to do that. That's where our eyes are, where our goals are."

-Kerron Johnson, Al.com

"Belmont is my sleeper pick in this region. This is the year that Rick Byrd's team finally wins a first round game. I see them also winning a second round game against what I believe is an overrated New Mexico team. Everyone's gushing over Steve Alford's squad, and don't get me wrong, they're good. I like Belmont taking them out though."

- Blake Lovell, Busting Brackets

"Arizona has more size than Belmont in the paint, but this upset possibility focuses on what can happen on the perimeter. The Wildcats' perimeter defense, specifically their defending of the three-pointer, has been a concern for much of the season.

"Opponents shoot 36% from beyond the arc, and given Belmont's ability to hit the shot this is a concern for Arizona. Kerron Johnson and company make 38.6% of their three-pointers, and they score nearly 33% of their points via the shot. Rebounding is definitely a concern for Rick Byrd's team in this matchup, but if they can convert three-pointers at a rate near their numbers for the season look out."

- Raphielle Johnson, College Basketball Talk

"The Bruins never win. At least they haven't in the past. They've been to the tournament five times since 2006, and they were blown out in four of the five. They lost to UCLA by 34 points in 2006, to Georgetown twice, by 25 in '07 and by 15 last year, and to Wisconsin by 14 in 2011. Maybe that's all the more reason to jump aboard.

"This season's team, which is the 11th seed in the West, can flat-out shoot the ball. And it will have to against much bigger Arizona, the No. 6 seed. The Bruins' tallest player is just 6-foot-7. Still, they make a ridiculous 57 percent of their 2-point tries, which is tops in the nation, and 39 percent from 3.

"Their leading scorer is guard Ian Clark, who averages 18 points. On defense, they rank among national leaders in steals, scrapping for 10 a game. Basically, they're a bunch of guards, flying around bigger opponents, collectively playing small ball for the good of the team. It's perfect symbolism."

- Gordon Monson, Salt Lake Tribune

"The Wildcats' strength this year has been their defensive rebounding, but the Bruins are a top-5 shooting team nationally. There won't be enough rebounds to tip the scales in favor of the Pac-12 squad that couldn't rein in those other Bruins (we're talking UCLA) in any of their three meetings this season. Arizona probably deserved a little more respect from the committee and perhaps as high as a No. 4 seed, but Belmont's talent is going to be equal to the task here."

- A.J. Mass, ESPN.com

"It's the highest seed for Belmont in school history. This is my third go-around in the tournament with these guys, so we have lots of experience. I think we have a good chance to go out and compete and win the game. We have the tools to be a part of Belmont's first winning team in the NCAA tournament. We just have to go out and play hard."

- J.J. Mann, Marietta Daily Journal


Wildcat Authority Top Stories