Arizona basketball looks to seal a perfect home record
The No. 3 Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team is almost in the home stretch.
With just three regular season games remaining, Arizona (26-2, 13-2 Pac-12 Conference) has put together one of the strongest résumés in the nation, and a trip to the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed is within grasp.
But before it can seal one of its most successful regular seasons, it has one final home test against Stanford (18-9, 9-6 Pac-12) on Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
The UA is 17-0 at home this season.
Sophomore guard Gabe York guards Cal redshirt junior guard Ricky Kreklow during Arizona's 87-59 win over the Golden Bears in McKale Center on Wednesday. The Wildcats are 17-0 at home and 3-0 since york entered the starting lineup.
As of Wednesday, five schools ranked in the top 10 of the AP Top 25 had a perfect record at home: No. 9 Creighton, No. 6 Duke, No. 3 Arizona, No. 2 Wichita State and No. 1 Florida.
But having a perfect record at home won’t guarantee a national championship. Louisville, the 2012-13 national champion, lost to then-No. 6 Syracuse last season at home on Jan. 19, 2013.
The Wildcats aren’t looking to make their national championship run quite yet. They’re looking to wrap up one of the four No. 1 seeds, the easiest path to the national championship game. And with four other schools in the AP Top 10 all owning perfect home records, Arizona can’t afford to be one of the schools without it.
With so much parity in college basketball this season, the Wildcats may need to end the season with a perfect home record.
However, Stanford will test them on Sunday.
The Cardinal has put together a nice enough résumé to possibly earn a trip to the NCAA tournament; while it might not go as a No. 1 seed, a victory over then-No. 10 UConn and a home win on Feb. 22 against then-No. 23 UCLA give it reason to be confident.
With a 9-6 conference record, however, Stanford is in the Pac-12’s bubble group — schools that still have something to prove.
As of Wednesday, Stanford, ASU, Colorado and California all had 9-6 Pac-12 conference records. Stanford was sitting at the top of that messy group, but a loss on Wednesday night to the Sun Devils in Tempe, Ariz., dropped it, and it needs to rebound.
As every team has done this year, Stanford will give the Wildcats its best effort. Stanford nearly beat Arizona on Jan. 29 in Stanford, Calif. But this is a different Arizona team, so it’ll be a new matchup. Game plans will be different, and rotations have changed.
In the Wildcats’ first meeting with the Cardinal, Gabe York was coming off of the bench and was limited to five points.
As a team, Arizona scored just 60 points and won the game on its defense. The new Wildcats are even faster and have found a way to use their formerly notorious offense and mix it with a tenacious three-guard rotation.
Arizona’s team has changed, but its home court has not. A home court has always been the keystone to the Wildcats’, and most other schools’, success.
A national championship won’t be secured Sunday, but the confidence to send their résumé will.
-No. 1 seeds’ all-time record in the NCAA tournament is 389-98 (.799 percent).
-No. 2 seeds’ all-time record in the NCAA tournament is 279-112 (.714 percent).
-No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Elite Eight 69 percent of the time.
-No. 2 seeds have advanced to the Elite Eight 46.6 percent of the time.
-No. 1 seeds have advanced to the NCAA Championship 23.3 percent of the time.
-No. 2 seeds have advanced to the NCAA Championship 10.3 percent of the time.
-Since 1985, a No. 1 seed has won the NCAA tournament 15 times.
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella