Monday, March 17, 2014

A Brief Look at Arizona

By now, you know that Weber State drew the 16 seed in the West, and will take on Arizona in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Let's take a brief look at Arizona, and what we know of them.

For a lot of the year, Arizona was ranked #1 in the country, as they started things off by winning 21 straight games. They finished 30-4, losing to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament final.

Star forward Brandon Ashley (sidenote: Arizona has a lot of stars) got hurt in the 22nd game against California. It might be worth noting that Arizona was 21-0 with him, and 9-4 without him.

Arizona is led by Nick Johnson, a first team All-American and a guy that is really an excellent player. This year, he averaged 16.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 2.8 APG. He can score from the outside (36%), inside (49% on twos), and is good at getting to the free throw line (169 attempts this year, shooting 77%). Other guys to watch for include Aaron Gordon (a super athletic freshman who will be a high draft pick this year), and TJ McConnell (a transfer from Duquesne who is an excellent passer). As you would expect from a number one seed, Arizona has no shortage of talent, athletes, or depth in a game like this.

In terms of defensive efficiency, Arizona is the best defensiv team in the country, allowing 0.87 PPP (by comparison, Weber State allows 1.06 PPP). Teams shoot just 40.5% on twos against them, second best rate in the country. Also, the Wildcats are great on the defensive glass, and opponents have the sixth worst offensive rebounding percentage against them of any team in the country. Baskets will be tough to come by.

Offensively, Arizona is 35th in the country at 1.13 PPP (again for comparison, Weber State is at 1.06 PPP). Their best weapon as been scoring inside the paint... they aren't a great three-point shooting team, and they get 57% of their points with two-pointers. They will look to go inside.

Obviously, Weber State will have their work cut out for them. No 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed. The Wildcats are 30-4 for a reason! As the week goes on, though, we'll look at what Weber State has to do to have a puncher's chance in this game.

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