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How in the world is Arizona expected to compete against Gonzaga’s massive frontcourt without injured senior center Kaleb Tarczewski?
If the Wildcats can’t beat lower-ranked Providence on a neutral court in Fullerton (in which the gym had mostly Arizona fans) how can Sean Miller’s No. 19-ranked team be expected to be upend the No. 13 Bulldogs in front of what should be a raucous crowd?
The Wildcats (6-1) will undoubtedly be the underdogs at Gonzaga’s McCarthey Athletic Center tomorrow afternoon. The Las Vegas odds will not be posted until late tonight.
A victory on the road would be a dramatic turning point in Miller getting his team back in the discussion of being one of the top-tier teams in the nation. Presently, Arizona has a No. 202 RPI rating because of its mostly soft schedule and loss to the Friars.
Gonzaga (5-1) has an RPI of No. 25. The NCAA tournament selection committee — never too early to be geared that way — looks very fondly on teams who make true road trips, especially against highly-ranked opponents.
If Arizona suffers another loss, its RPI will improve somewhat because of the discrepancy with Gonzaga’s rating, but not significantly. Moreover, the Wildcats will already have two losses with challenging non-conference games ahead against No. 63 Fresno State, No. 147 Missouri, No. 177 UNLV and No. 51 Long Beach State. At least those games are all at McKale Center from Dec. 9 to 22 before Arizona breaks for Christmas before heading to ASU (Jan. 3), UCLA (Jan. 7) and USC (Jan. 9) to start the Pac-12 season.
The Pac-12 is so balanced this year from top to bottom — not a weak team among them — that the regular-season champion could lose five games. If Arizona loses two or three times in the non-conference, it could be in jeopardy of going 24-7 or 23-8, which is bubble status if the Wildcats have an RPI lower than No. 50 by season’s end.
If the Wildcats can run the table, including a win over Gonzaga, in the non-conference, Miller’s team will be looking good heading into the arduous Pac-12 schedule.
The following slideshow indicates what the Wildcats must do to get the job done in Spokane tomorrow. CLICK ON THE NEXT ARROW AT THE UPPER OR LOWER RIGHT TO CONTINUE.
Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:
WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers). MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played).
SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING
|AVG 5-9.9 MIN|
|AVG 1-4.9 MIN|