Of the eight teams left on the other side of the bracket, only six will I mention. Florida Gulf Coast has been the darling of the tourney, but they just aren't good enough to beat three top-10 teams and neither is Marquette. Here are the rest:
These three teams all share one very important trait: They are great defenders. All three of these teams is in the top ten in defensive efficiency. Kansas is eighth. The reason this poses such a problem for Arizona is that the Wildcats don't have great offense. At many points this season they have found it difficult to score against teams like Utah or Washinton. Playing a No. 1 seed with a top-ten defense will be trouble.
Adding the matchup issue, Jeff Withey, the traitor, is playing like a man possessed and will neautralize the Wildcats' size. They have the projected top-three draft pick in Ben McLemore and a series of experienced players Travis Releford, Elijah Johnson and Kevin Young.
Kansas is going to have a tough road to the championship game, and I don't think the team will make it, but if it does, Arizona would have a tough time beating the Jayhawks.
Syracuse ended the season poorly but has righted the ship. The team is playing great basketball. The reason this is a bad matchup is Syracuse's 2-3 zone. The Wildcats have looked totally lost with teams playing zone. Syracuse has this thing worked out as well as it can be worked out. For Miller, it would mean winning a Final Four game and trying to implement a gameplan against this zone.
On top of this Syracuse has great athletes, good size and good scoring options. Not a good matchup for the Cats.
On Dec. 15 in Tucson, somehow, someway, Arizona pulled this game out. Up the entire game and six points with just over a minute, Florida felt the pressure and the Wildcats came away with an improbable victory. The Gators were a better team on that night, but didn't win the game.
The issues for the Wildcats in this game are again, the defensive prowess of the opposition. Florida is third in the nation in defensive efficiency and would make every basket difficult.
Also, the Gators would take away any advantage the Wildcats have. Size is mitigated if not vitiated for Arizona with the Florida bigs. Arizona is not more athletic or skilled, in fact, Florida probably is at the higher end of both spectrums. While the Wildcats won the first game between these two, Florida would get the better end of the deal this time.
Michigan is an offensive juggernaut but struggles on the defensive end of the floor. Third in the nation in offensive efficiency, Michigan has five guys that can put up 20 on any given night. The team is led by the best point guard in the nation in Trey Burke.
But Michigan doesn't play great defense. The Wolverines are 94th in the nation in defensive efficiency and 211th in rebounding. Like Duke, this is the profile of team that Arizona does very well against. Arizona would have no trouble scoring and would get enough stops on the other end to pull this one out.
Like Florida, the Wildcats played the Hurricanes earlier this season. Unlike Florida, Arizona beat Miami in a blowout. At that time, Miami was playing without its center Reggie Johnson. And Miami has undoubtably been a better team since it got him back. But now Johnson is out again. While he may be back for the title game, it is doubtful he will be 100 percent.
The matchups are good for Arizona in this one. Although it wouldn't be a blowout, if the Wildcats play Miami in the championship, the odds are they come away with national title No. 2.
While Arizona would be a big underdog, this game would be close. Indiana isn't a great defending team. While the Hoosiers are good, they don't compare to the bad matchups for the Cats. Arizona would be able to score on this team. For this reason Arizona's success would hinge on stopping the Hoosiers, and they can.
Victor Oladipo is a good player, but is more of an athlete than a pure scoring guard. He gets a lot of his points and game-changing plays off of his athleticism alone. Nick Johnson, while not as long, is just as good of an athlete and could keep Oladipo from being the guy who wins the game.
Cody Zeller is a great college player, but he is less of an athlete and more of a skill guy. Tarczewski isn't going to be able to totally stop him, but when he runs into the 6'10'' Jerrett and the long Brandon Ashley in the paint, he is not going to have an easy time. I think Arizona has good matchups for Indiana's two best players.
The rest of the team, Arizona has advantages. If Solomon Hill is aggressive, he will not only be able to stop Christian Watford, he will have difficulty with him. The point guard slot goes to the 23-year-old Lyons in his third Sweet 16 against the freshman Yogi Ferrell. The supporting cast of Arizona is better as well, and if they could elimnate the three pointers made, the Wildcats could upset the Hoosiers.
While all these hypotheticals are fun, the agenda for the Wildcats is clear, beat Ohio State.