Arizona guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and his teammates have their eye on the ball: a trip to the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona, if they can win two more games in the West Region. (Photo: Stan Liu/Arizona Athletics)
Arizona guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright and his teammates have their eye on the ball: a trip to the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona, if they can win two more games in the West Region. (Photo: Stan Liu/Arizona Athletics)

Wildcats Two Wins From NCAA Final Four

Their West Region game against Xavier is a rematch of the two teams' meeting in 2015, which was won by Arizona, 68-60. Sean Miller was Xavier's head coach before coming to the UA.
March 22, 2017
Extra Info: 

Wildcats everywhere have been tracking the team's progress in the NCAA Tournament. Here's a social media sampling.

What: 
Arizona vs. Xavier
When: 
7 p.m. MST Thursday; TBS telecast
Where: 
SAP Center, San Jose, California

Arizona has two-stepped its way into the third round of college basketball's so-called Big Dance, the NCAA Tournament. And now the Wildcats — on the 20th anniversary of their only national championship — are two steps from making it to the Final Four. 

Here are some of the most prominent developments going into Thursday night's game against Xavier in the West Region semifinals in San Jose, California. The winner will play the winner of Thursday's Gonzaga-West Virginia game on Saturday for the region championship and a spot in the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona, slightly more than 100 miles up the road from Tucson.

  • Arizona is in the Sweet 16 of the men's tournament for 18th time in program history and the fifth time in the last seven seasons. The UA is 10-7 in the round of 16 in program history, with a mark of 3-1 under head coach Sean Miller. The Wildcats arrive in the third round of the tournament as winners of 26 of their last 28 games going back to the first week of December.
  • The Wildcats advanced to San Jose by defeating Saint Mary's, 69-60, in the second round in Salt Lake City. Arizona erased a 10-point deficit against the Gaels, which marked the third time this season that is has overcome a double-digit deficit in a game. The Cats shot 59.1 percent from the field in the second half as Lauri Markkanen (16 points), Allonzo Trier (14), Dusan Ristic (13) and Kadeem Allen (12) all scored in double figures. In the first round in Salt Lake, the UA defeated North Dakota, 100-82.
  • Markkanen recorded a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Saint Mary's. He became the first UA freshman to post a double-double in a NCAA Tournament game since Channing Frye tallied 18 points and 11 rebounds against Wyoming in the second round of the 2002 tournament.
  • UA enters with a record of 17-3 this season in games away from McKale Center, including true road games and neutral-site games. The program's 17-3 (.850) mark away from home is the second-highest winning percentage in neutral and away games among teams left in the tournament, trailing only Gonzaga's 19-0 record.
  • Trier's 37 of 44 (.841) free-throw shooting during the Pac-12 Conference and NCAA tournaments has been fueled by his clutch foul shooting in the second half of those five postseason games. He is 30 of 33 (.909) at the free-throw line in the second half of those games, which accounts for 81 percent of all of his made free throws during postseason play.
  • Miller will face Xavier for a second time in NCAA postseason play since leaving the Musketeers for the Wildcats after the 2008-2009 season. He spent five seasons at the helm of Xavier's program, from 2004 to 2009, after spending three seasons as Thad Matta's top assistant at XU. The last time Miller faced Xavier was in the Sweet 16 of the 2015 tournament, which saw the Wildcats top the Musketeers, 68-60, in Los Angeles. Arizona was then eliminated in the region final by Wisconsin, in a rematch of the two teams' West Region final in 2014.
  • Arizona's 32 wins this season mark the seventh season of 30 or more wins in program history, with four of those 30-win seasons coming in the last seven years.
  • The UA, which won the Pac-12 Tournament and a share of the Pac-12 regular-season championship, advanced to the round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament with a record of 32-4. All four losses came to teams that are also in the Sweet 16: Butler, Gonzaga, Oregon and UCLA.
  • The UA's Final Four appearances to date came in 1988 (Kansas City, Missouri; lost to Oklahoma in semifinals), 1994 (Charlotte, North Carolina; lost to Arkansas in semifinals), 1997 (Indianapolis; defeated Kentucky in championship game) and 2001 (Minneapolis; lost to Duke in championship game).
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