Are the Cats in?

Arizona's win over ASU gave them their ninth Pac-10 win, assuring them of at least a .500 record in conference. Now the question remains, how much more does Arizona need to do to get into the NCAA Tournament.

In my opinion, nothing.

As it stands the Wildcats are 18-9 overall and 8-7 in conference. They are ranked 15th in the RPI and their strength of schedule, at least according to, is still tops in the nation.

Even if the Cats do not win another game, it seems to me that their resume is good enough to get them in. A three-game slide would still give them an RPI under 25, and unless Kentucky or Duke makes a deep run in their conference tournament, the Cats' should hold onto the No. 1 strength of schedule.

The worst case scenario would have Arizona at 18-12 overall. They'd be 4-6 in their last ten. While those number do not jump out at you, they would seem to separate them from some other teams who would have similar resumes.

If the Cats do not win again, they'd be the sixth place team in the Pac-10. While that is not a great number, the Pac-10 is one of the best conferences and seem poised to get six teams in. A .500 regular season in the conference should be good enough.

Looking at other teams with similar conference rankings, the Cats have a better overall resume. Georgia, Mississippi and Mississippi State occupy a similar space in the SEC rankings as the Cats do in the Pac-10. Right now they are 52nd, 63rd and 66th in the RPI respectively. Of those teams, only Georgia has a strength of schedule in the top-20.

The Big 10 sees Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Purdue with similar records in their conference. Indiana is the closest to Arizona with a 24 RPI and 21 strength of schedule. Of that group only Purdue with their 47 RPI look close to being in the NCAA's.

We see similar things in the ACC, Big 12 and Big East. The only team really close to Arizona is Duke and Maryland. The Blue Devils are fifth in the ACC and are ranked ninth in the RPI, while Maryland is 6th and 14th in the RPI. Maryland has the 10th toughest schedule, while Duke is third. Both those teams seem like they should get bids, so it stands to reason that the Wildcats will as well.

If Arizona keeps the toughest schedule rank, they have precedent getting in with a less than stellar ranking. In 2001 Georgia had the nation's toughest schedule, were just two games over .500 and still earned an eight seed. In 2004 Alabama had a similar resume and parlayed it into an eight seed as well.

Of course, the Cats could avoid Selection Sunday nervousness with another win or two. One more win gives them 10 wins in conference and two more give them 20 wins and the magic 11 conference wins.

Right now the Cats should be in, but the key word is should.

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