Pacific 10 (19-13, 9-9)
Big Wins: 12/23 Kansas (84-67), 1/29 Washington (106-97), 2/14 UCLA (84-72)
Bad Losses: 12/20 at UNLV (64-79), 1/4 at Stanford (60-76), 2/26 at Washington State (53-69)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, First Round loss to West Virginia
Coach: (interim) Russ Pennell (First NCAA appearance)
Nic Wise, Junior, Guard, 15.1 ppg, 4.6 apg
Kyle Fogg, Freshman, Guard, 6.2 ppg, 1.7 apg
Jamelle Horne, Sophomore, Forward, 6.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg
Chase Budinger, Junior, Forward, 17.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.4 apg
Jordan Hill, Junior, Forward, 18.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg
Zane Johnson, Sophomore, Guard, 4.8 ppg, 1.0 apg
Why They Can Surprise:
Arizona has three stars that will contribute a majority of the production. Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger and Nic Wise combine to average 51.5 of the team’s 72.7 points per game. If a team has three players that are so much more talented than the rest of the team, it is not bad to have the dominating big man, the multi-faceted slashing forward and the steadying point guard. Hill is the big man and averages 18.5 points and an incredible 11.0 rebounds per contest. He is also a good shot blocker and his presence under the basket has turned what would be a bad defense into a decent defense.
Budinger does a lot of everything and ended the regular season with an average of 17.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists. The 6-7 junior is also a superb outside shooter. Speaking of quality outside shooters, Wise connects on 42.4 percent of his long range attempts. The 5-10 point guard will also get to the basket and finish or find his teammates.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The Wildcats have committed some mind-boggling mental mistakes during the 2008-2009 campaign, most notably at the end of games. However, Arizona shoots very well from the charity stripe and should have an advantage at the end of games. They were down by ten points with 52 seconds left against Houston and came back to win. Yet, that advantage can quickly go away if the team makes too many mistakes. The other concern for Coach Russ Pennell’s squad is depth. Six players see a majority of the minutes and the big three all average at least 35 minutes per game. Eventually that will be a problem.
Who To Watch:
Hill, Budinger and Wise can win games on their own, but the Wildcats will need to get production from Jamal Horne, Kyle Fogg and Zane Johnson in order to make a deep tournament run. Horne, a 6-6 forward, is a decent scorer around the basket and will always work hard on the glass. Fogg is just a freshman, but has shown plenty of potential. He will do most of his damage getting to the basket, but once his outside shot develops a little more consistency he will be a dynamic scorer. Johnson is the outside shooter who can provide a quick jolt to the offense. He will not spend much time inside the arc, but he does knock down 40.0 percent of his attempts from beyond the three-point line.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.7 (94th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.5 (186, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.9 (24, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.3 (172, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.2 (161, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 40.2 (8, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 73.3 (38, 4)
Rebound Margin: 2.3 (101, 6)
Assists Per Game: 14.5 (78, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.7 (74, 6)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Utah