Arizona Wildcats' Blueprint to Win 2014 NCAA Tournament

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Arizona Wildcats' Blueprint to Win 2014 NCAA Tournament
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell is one of the reasons to believe the Wildcats are still capable of a title run.

The Arizona Wildcats claimed the West's No. 1 seed in the 2014 NCAA tournament—a foregone conclusion for the bulk of the season.

But Sean Miller's blueprint for facing the field from that high-profile slot was fundamentally altered over the last month.

Since losing power forward Brandon Ashley—one of the team's premier rebounders, interior defenders and mid-range shooters—to a broken foot in early February, Arizona went from polishing a Final Four lock to figuring out how to play minus absolute low-post dominance.

All four of the Wildcats' losses have come since losing Ashley—road losses at Cal, Arizona State and Oregon, and a neutral-site defeat to UCLA in the Pac-12 tourney. It was 21-0 before the injury, 9-4 since. 

But the Wildcats have also compiled four of their most dominating performances of 2014 since that rough night in Berkeley:

  • An 88-61 win at tourney-bound Colorado, one of the most difficult road environments in college hoops.
  • A 87-59 rout of the Cal team that broke the Wildcats' undefeated run on the day Ashley went down for the year.
  • A 71-39 pounding of fringe NCAA bubble-team Utah, followed by a second 20-plus point beatdown of Colorado, in the Pac-12 tourney.

There is still plenty to like about this Arizona team, even in the absence of one of its stars.

Here is the layout for Arizona making a serious run at the national title.

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