Thoughts and stats from the Big Dance

Going into the Tournament we all knew there would not be a great seed for the Wildcats. Most fans hoped for a seven seed, but knew that an eight or a nine were possible. The Cats are making their 22nd consecutive trip to the ‘Big Dance' and here are 22 thoughts about the Cats, their bracket and the NCAA Tournament as a whole.

1. The biggest storyline is Mustafa Shakur going home to Philly. With a win he could face Villanova, the team that took Michael Nardi and dropped Shakur. Unlike most UA players who have a game or two scheduled in their home town, Shakur has only gotten as close as New York City and Virginia.

2. Although Arizona has scuffled this season, but Wisconsin is really limping into the NCAA's. The Badgers have lost 5-of-6 and three in a row.

3. Hassan Adams has something to prove. Not only does he have the embarrassment of the DUI but he has been very average the last 10 games. The Wildcat senior needs to impress the NBA scouts and what way would be better than two or three good games in the NCAA Tournament? We'll see what "Hot Sauce" is made of.

4. For the second straight year the Wildcats may have to play a top-seeded team in their home state. Last year it was Illinois less than two hours from campus. This year they could get Villanova less than 20 minutes from their home. It could have been worse. Had Arizona beaten Seton Hall in 2004, they would have had to play No. 1 seeded Duke in Raleigh, NC.

5. Wisconsin is not a bad team inside 6-11 Brian Butch and 6-10 Jason Chappell both play over 20 minutes. The rest of the big men are in the 6-7 range.

6. Just three Badgers average over 10 points a game, but nine play 15 minutes of more.

7. In case you missed it, Lute Olson has just tied Bobby Knight and Dean Smith with 27 tournament appearances.

8. The Cats played seven NCAA Tournament teams. They squared off against Cal, UCLA, UNC, Kansas, Washington, UConn and Michigan State. The bad news is that they went 3-6 against those teams.

9. If the Wildcats can get by Wisconsin, they would get Villanova and their four-guard line-up. The good news is that the East Coast Wildcats are not very good inside, the bad news is that the West Coast Cats are less athletic than the boys from Philly. Athletic guards have given the UA fits this year.

10. Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers are 6-3 in NCAA Tournament games. Isaiah Fox is actually 8-3, but is not expected to play.

11. The top half of the Minneapolis Bracket looks more like the West Region. In addition to Arizona, Nevada, Montana and Pacific are all seeded here.

12. The biggest question of the bracket may be Villanova's Allen Ray. The talented guard hurt his eye in the Big East Tournament. Although Villanova is claiming he'll be available, he has yet to be cleared for the NCAA tournament by doctors.

13. The Wildcats have lost two in a row against the Big Ten. They lost to Michigan State earlier this season and Illinois in last year's NCAA Tournament. Their last win was last November against Michigan in the Preseason N.I.T.

14. The Wildcats are 4-2 all time against the Big-10 in the NCAA Tournament. One of those losses was to Wisconsin back in 2000.

15. Arizona has never been a No. 8 seed. They have been a nine twice and a ten twice. They are 0-5 when seeded five or lower.

16. All-time the Cats are 28-28 vs. the Big 10. They are 1-2 against the Badgers.

17. Looking ahead, the Cats are 2-1 vs. Villanova. Looking way ahead, the Cats are 1-0 against Montana, 3-0 against Boston College and have never played Nevada.

18. Although no longer called the Midwest Region, the Wildcats are 8-4 in regions that play their regional finals in the Midwest. They advanced to the Final Four in 2001 and the Elite Eight last year. Their only two other appearances were one-and-dones in 1995 and 1999.

19. The Cats have not fared well east of the Mississippi. They are 2-5 in those games, with both wins coming in Birmingham in 1997. They have never played an NCAA Tournament game in the Northeast. They have played two games in North Carolina, including the 1994 Final Four.

20. It is interesting that two of the final teams in are from the West Coast. Air Force and Utah State were among the last teams in. The biggest snubs? Cincy, Hofstra, Michigan and Missouri State. Of those I'd say Michigan was the most deserving, even though Missouri State had an RPI of 21.

21. Other seeds the Cats have never been: 6,7, 11,12,13,14,15 and 16.

22. Is it me or are there not teams that jump out at you? UConn seems to be the closest thing to a lock. Duke looks mortal, but do the teams in their region scare you? Syracuse? LSU? Iowa? Texas? Villanova has the nice home court advantage, but an injured player. UConn may have to get Kentucky in the second round. There are probably a legitimate 12-15 teams that could make the Final Four, maybe more. My early picks (subject to change later in the week): Texas, UCLA, Boston College and UConn.

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