In 2001, Arizona lost an "instant classic" in the National Championship game to Duke. The next two games, beginning the 2001-02 season, Arizona played two more instant classics: the unranked Wildcats defeated second-ranked Maryland and the next night Arizona defeated fifth-ranked Florida in the Coaches for Cancer games at Madison Square Garden. This season, Arizona lost classics to Florida and Stanford.
However, the two greatest classics for Arizona would have to be the double-overtime game against Gonzaga in last year's tournament, and Arizona's National Championship overtime victory over Kentucky in 1997. These are all "Classic" games, whether or not they won or lost. Unfortunately, they lost both classics this season. Is it time to see a change?
These classic games are especially poignant to me, as I have been to many of them. I attended the UConn loss, sitting in the third row. I was present when the Wildcats lost to Duke at the 2001 Final Four. I saw the ‘Cats defeat Maryland and Florida in consecutive nights. I saw Arizona lose to Florida this season. These games I held dearly in my heart, and I hope to see two more this weekend.
First up is Seton Hall. The Pirates come into the 2004 tournament as the 8 seed, Arizona the 9. Right off the bat, a victory for Arizona would be an upset. Upsets create classic games. Arizona has had two classics this year, losing both. It is time to buck this trend. If Arizona and Seton Hall play a close game, I will have been present at yet another "Classic" game.
If the ‘Cats play well enough to advance, they will most likely face the Blue Devils of Duke. This is an instant classic in the making. This game would match up the same two teams as the 2001 NCAA Championship, a classic game. While nearly all of the players are different, the coaches are the same. Lute Olson surely has revenge on his mind.
Well ‘Cats fans. Look for some classic games this weekend. I will be there. Arizona has a record of 2-3 in classic games that I have seen live, with an overall record of 10-5. I have been to 15 Arizona games and they have only lost five, three were seen on ESPN Classic. I will be adding at least one more game to my record. Let's hope my streak of sevens straight wins while in attendance continues Thursday.