Arizona Wildcats Basketball: Top 5 Sweet 16 Victories

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Arizona Wildcats Basketball: Top 5 Sweet 16 Victories
DAVE MARTIN/Associated Press
Arizona A.J. Bramlett tries to maneuver for a shot against Kansas in a 1997 Sweet 16 game.

The Arizona Wildcats' basketball program has achieved its 17th Sweet 16 appearance, an indication the program belongs among the nation's elite for its prolonged success.

When the Wildcats return to Anaheim, Calif., Thursday to face San Diego State in the Sweet 16, the memories of the 93-77 drubbing of Duke in 2011 there will be rekindled. Derrick Williams' career-high 32-point performance against the Blue Devils is one of the best in the history of the program, let alone its storied Sweet 16 legacy.

Some of the more memorable Arizona basketball games have occurred in the Sweet 16. The highest-ranking victories in that round span over three different coaching staffs led by Fred Snowden, Lute Olson and Sean Miller.

The top Sweet 16 wins include an overtime classic with UNLV in 1976, a buzzer-beater by Salim Stoudamire against Oklahoma State in 2005 and the best victory in school history—the toppling of No. 1-ranked Kansas in 1997.

Another Sweet 16 classic against San Diego State, a team that Arizona defeated 69-60 in November, appears likely, with both teams coming off impressive wins in the third round of the NCAA tournament. They are primed for their rematch in Anaheim. 

Both teams have the incentive of finally getting their head coach to the Final Four. San Diego State's Steve Fisher has not returned to the Final Four since losing the national championship game to North Carolina as Michigan's coach in 1993.

Sean Miller, in his 10th season as a head coach at Xavier and Arizona, has never reached the Final Four.

"We all know what he really wants and we know it means a lot to him," Arizona freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said, per Yahoo! Sports. "We love Coach Miller. He's a great coach. He cares about all the players. There's nothing better than seeing him happy. We're just going to keep working and doing our best. As long as we do that, I'm sure we'll get him there."

The following slideshow ranks Arizona's top Sweet 16 victories en route to that Final Four goal. Arizona did not reach that destination after three of them, but the games remain as some of the best in Wildcats history.

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