“Means a lot,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said yesterday after his Wildcats advanced with a 67-62 win over USC. “We came here trying to separate our regular season championship and pursue a quest for the conference tournament championship. You have that postseason now, and these guys understand that from this point forward, after a lot of hard work and a great regular season, that when you lose, you go home.”
During the regular season, the Washington and Arizona split their two meetings. The Huskies won 85-68 in Seattle on Jan. 20, while the Wildcats won 87-86 in Tucson on Feb. 19.
But Arizona did better against the rest of the league and ended up winning the regular-season championship banner that once seemed destined to hang at Hec Ed.
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“We was picked to be No. 1, but we finished No. 3,” Thomas said. “We’ve got another opportunity to win the Pac-10 championship. We’ve just got to be ready because it’s going to be a good game.”
It should be. I think the two Arizona games mark the best two-game-series performances UW had against any team this season.
And this is one that UW fans should be able to watch with a little more comfort than any game for a long time. Because whatever happens today, it now appears about as certain as it gets that the Huskies will be dancing into the NCAA tournament next week, win or lose today.
(By the way, UW says that if they plan no Selection Sunday party on campus unless they secure the automatic bid today.)