Aaron Gordon

Arizona still No. 1 seed despite Pac-12 final loss


Tucson residents, take a deep breath and relax. Your Arizona Wildcats are still going to be a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. Dave Ommen had Arizona as the top seed in the West region Saturday morning and, despite the loss in the Pac-12 final to UCLA, the Wildcats will remain be the top seed in the same region on Sunday morning.

Rob Dauster had an intriguing post last night about whether the college basketball nation had forgotten about Arizona. Were the Wildcats being overlooked? In some ways, college basketball has become like the Oscars season. The Wildcats were the nation’s consensus top team in December and January, but when they lost to California on February 1st, a loss that was then followed by defeats to Arizona State and Oregon, the assumption was that Zona peaked too early. Like an Oscars-worthy movie that was released during the summer, should we really give Arizona our attention months later?

RELATED: Is your team in the field of 68? Check our latest Bracketology

The UCLA loss is a tiny blip in Arizona’s sterling defensive resume. The effectiveness of the pack-line defense this season makes it difficult for teams to get open on the court, and making a field goal is even harder. The common adage is defense wins championships, and Arizona’s defense could run a gamut of postseason tournaments, if needed.

The one bugbear this year has been Arizona’s offense: when the team experienced their mid-February swoon, Nick Johnson struggled from the field, and the offense appeared stagnant, but the Pac-12 tournament has been a boon for Arizona’s offensive efficiency. Arizona registered double-digit wins over Utah and Colorado, and the team, through three conference tournament games, is scoring 1.14 points per possession, an uptick from their regular season conference rating (1.08).

MORE: Get caught up on all of today’s Bubble Banter

If anything, the loss will greatly enhance UCLA’s seeding. The Bruins are a six seed in Ommen’s latest bracketology, but we have to imagine that seeding drops tomorrow. This team defeated what was once the nation’s best team, and is easily one of the best twenty teams (a fifth seed) in the country.

The only constant theme during this conference championship week has been the failure of top seeds to win out. Teams like Louisiana Tech and Utah Valley — number one seeds which lost in recent days — have crowded the NIT, and while both UCLA and Arizona were clearly in the field regardless of the Pac-12 tournament outcome, the Bruins win will have an effect on other entrants battling for the lower seeds.

No. 24 Cincinnati beats George Washington 61-56

Troy Caupain
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NEW YORK (AP) Troy Caupain scored 16 points, including the go-ahead three-point play with 1:38 to play, and No. 24 Cincinnati beat George Washington 61-56 on Saturday in the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic.

The fact the game came down to a three-point play was ironic as both teams took 22 3-point attempts and there were times it seemed a 3-point shooting broke out.

Caupain’s traditional three-point play gave the Bearcats (7-0) a 55-54 lead. After a missed 3 by the Colonials (6-1) Octavius Ellis, who chosen the tournament MVP, scored on a tip-in. Patricio Garino scored on a drive for George Washington with 29 seconds left.

The Colonials let the Bearcats pass the ball around and they finally fouled when Ellis touched the ball with 14 seconds to play. Ellis, a 56 percent free throw shooter, clinched his MVP award by making both for a 59-56 lead. Two free throws by Caupain with 6.1 seconds left capped the scoring.

Farad Cobb and Kevin Johnson both had 11 points for the Bearcats while Ellis had nine points and seven rebounds.

Garino had 15 points for George Washington, Tyler Cavanaugh had 13 and Joe McDonald 11.

The Colonials finished 11 of 22 from 3-point range, not bad for a team that came in shooting 27.9 percent (29 of 104) from there. The 50 percent doesn’t look so good when you consider the Colonials made five of their first six 3-point attempts and were 8 of 11 from beyond the arc in the first half. They went 16:42 between 2-point field goals but led 30-27 at halftime.

The Bearcats were 7 of 22 from 3-point range but their advantage came at the free throw line where they were 10 of 12 compared to George Washington’s 3 of 4.


George Washington: The Colonials beat Tennessee in the opening round and they were 3 of 15 on 3s. … George Washington was off to its best start since it was8-0 in 2005-06. … The Colonials finished 10 for 34 from 2-point range.

Cincinnati: The win gives the Bearcats a 13-1 all-time record against George Washington and this was their sixth straight. The last win came on Jan. 31, 1976. … Cincinnati is 7-0 for the fourth time in the last six seasons. … The Bearcats are 51-8 in and have won 24 of 25 in November under coach Mick Cronin. They have won 49 straight games when scoring over 60 points. The 60th point against the Colonials came with 6.1 seconds to play.


George Washington hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday.

Cincinnati hosts Butler on Wednesday.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady improving after being hospitalized

James Woodard, Anton Grady, Ron Baker
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Wichita State senior forward Anton Grady received some positive news on Saturday as a neurosurgeon reviewed MRI results, which are negative for spinal cord trauma.

According to a release from Wichita State, doctors believed Grady suffered a spinal cord concussion during a collision on Friday after he was taken off the floor in a stretcher and taken to a hospital in an ambulance. CT and MRI scans on Friday both turned up negative, but the news of Saturday’s results are an even more encouraging sign for Grady.

The injury for Grady occurred during a Friday loss to Alabama during the AdvoCare Invitational as the senior’s condition has improved since the collision. Grady will receive physical therapy over the next few days and doctors will check his progress before he is released from the hospital.

Grady has been alert and responsive to questions and had feeling in his extremities on Friday, but the use of his arms and legs was limited. By Saturday morning, Grady had improved the use of his extremities.

The 6-foot-8 Grady has averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season in his first season with the Shockers. The Cleveland State transfer is shooting 39 percent from the field.