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Following trends, don’t bet against Arizona, Claremont's Tarczewski
Arizona Wildcats center Kaleb Tarczewski (35) dunks against the UCLA Bruins during the first half in the championship game of the Pac-12 Conference college basketball tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
You can book it.
In six previous trips to the NCAA tournament as a head coach, Miller has never lost a game as the better seed. And this year ... he has a No. 1-seeded team.
If you believe in history repeating itself, that is.
“I sure hope that streak continues,” Miller said. If so “there will be a lot of great moments over the next three or four weeks.”
“I think sometimes you can make too much of what’s happened in the past,” Miller said. “You’ve gotta stay in the present. We’ve been in the conference tournament championship game three of the past four years and we’ve lost really hard-fought games almost on the last possession all three times.
But that was just the Pac-12 tournament. While the 2012 league tourney loss cost UA a desperately needed automatic NCAA bid, the NCAA tournament is the one everyone cares about.
Once again Sunday, Miller exhibited a steely focus on the immediate game ahead, UA’s opener on Friday against Weber State, talking about the strong shooting and savvy coaching of the Utah-based Wildcats and making them sound worrisome even as a No. 16 seed.
“The NCAA tournament, when you enter it, you have to enter it with that single-mindedness, that it can be taken away quickly,” Miller said. “You have to be ready to go, take nothing for granted.
Although Miller will be taking a team that will likely be favored into every West Region game it plays — the Wildcats were often underdogs as a No. 5 seed in 2010-11 and a No. 6 in 2012-13 — Arizona does have some practice wearing a target on its back.
In all three of UA’s regular-season losses — at Cal, Arizona State and Oregon — beating the Wildcats was considered a big enough deal that fans stormed the court.
“Part of going through a long season with a highly ranked team is going through the process, blocking out the outside and just making sure we hold ourselves to that standard — are we working hard, getting better and all-in?” Miller said.
“You hope that this week is very similar to the previous 12 weeks. If that’s the case, that’s going to give us the best chance to be successful on Friday.”