Wildcats earn 25th straight NCAA tournament berth Print
Written by Admin   
Sunday, 15 March 2009 22:35
NCAAB Headline News


 TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -Lute Olson started Arizona's NCAA tournament streak in 1985.
After interim coach Russ Pennell extended it to 25 straight years on Sunday, Olson called to congratulate him on keeping alive the nation's longest active streak.
``I kiddingly said, 'Hey, the streak's somebody else's problem now,''' Pennell said. ``He said congratulations on that one. One of the things I told Coach O was, 'You've built a program that's even able to endure a couple of years after you're gone.'''
The Wildcats may have pulled off the tournament's first big upset: They made it.
Despite staggering down the stretch, the Wildcats (19-13) slipped in as a 12th seed in the Midwest Region. They will face fifth-seeded Utah (24-9) on Friday in Miami.
t also had a deflating first-round loss to archrival Arizona State in the Pac-10 tournament last week.
Then came Sunday, when Arizona's red-and-blue block ``A'' appeared on the official NCAA selection show, prompting shouts of joy throughout McKale Center.
``That moment that the (players) saw that, it was like everything they had gone through was worth it,'' Pennell said. ``That moment, I'll never forget as long as I live, that elation that I saw on those kids' faces.''
Pennell became the third coach to lead the Wildcats into the NCAA tournament in as many seasons. Olson did it two years ago, and interim coach Kevin O'Neill kept the streak alive after Olson missed 2006-07 on a personal leave of absence.
The Wildcats are two years shy of matching the all-time record - North Carolina's run of 27 straight NCAA appearances from 1975-2001.
Arizona's streak appeared doomed as the Wildcats hit the skids, dropping five of their last six games. With each defeat, many in this basketball-mad city feared the streak would end.
Those fears grew when USC earned an automatic berth by winning the Pac-10 tournament, leading to a theory that the Trojans would snare the Pac-10's fifth bid and bump Arizona into the NIT. But the Pac-10 drew six berths.
Pennell said he thought Arizona deserved to be in, but he worried that a series of upsets in the conference tournaments might doom the Wildcats.
en Mississippi State won (the SEC tourney) today, I thought it kind of cooked us,'' Pennell said. ``But fortunately (the committee) looked at the whole season, and I think that was the most important thing.''
Indeed, the selection committee gave the Wildcats credit for notable victories over Kansas, Gonzaga, UCLA and Washington, instead of focusing on Arizona's poor finish.
``We obviously were aware that they lost several games coming down the stretch,'' committee chairman Mike Slive said in a teleconference. ``They were only 7-5 in the last 12 games. Obviously, it meant a lot to the committee that this team had a very strong resume ... with six wins in the top 50. It was important, and it helped Arizona offset the bottom of their schedule. Also, their losses were to some pretty good teams.''
Slive wouldn't say whether the Wildcats were the last at-large team chosen since they and Wisconsin were the only at-larges seeded on the 12 line.
``We don't keep track of who's last,'' Slive said. ``This is the most gutwrenching moment of five long days.''
The Wildcats had plenty of flaws, including a 2-9 road record, with wins at lowly Oregon and Oregon State. But Slive said Arizona's typically stout schedule worked to its advantage.
``For me, it's the whole season,'' Slive said. ``November and December are not an exhibition season. It's part of the body of work.''
s in the opening round, they would face either fourth-seeded Wake Forest or 13th-seeded Cleveland State in the second round.
``We're thrilled and we hope to validate our being picked,'' Pennell said. ``We're not just happy to be here. We'd like to stay a little while if we can.''
---
AP Sports Writer Gregg Bell in Seattle contributed to this report.
 

NCAABB Team Pages

Top NCAABB Public Bets

View All: NFL |  NBA |  NCAAF |  NCAAB |  MLB |  NHL

NCAABB Futures

NCAA BASKETBALL TEAM MENS TOURNAMENT ODDS CURRENT
KENTUCKY 4/1
ARIZONA 8/1
DUKE 10/1
WISCONSIN 12/1
KANSAS 14/1
FLORIDA 14/1
NORTH CAROLINA 16/1
VILLANOVA 25/1
LOUISVILLE 28/1
WICHITA STATE 28/1
View All

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Contact Us | Advertising | 888-99-SPREAD

THIS IS NOT A GAMBLING SITE – If you think you have a gambling problem click here.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Individual users are responsible for the laws regarding accessing gambling information from their jurisdictions. Many countries around the world prohibit gambling, please check the laws in your location. Any use of this information that may violate any federal, state, local or international law is strictly prohibited.

Copyright: The information contained on TheSpread.com website is protected by international copyright and may not be reproduced, or redistributed in any way without expressed written consent.

About: TheSpread.com is the largest sports betting news site in the United States. We provide point spread news, odds, statistics and information to over 199 countries around the world each year. Our coverage includes all North American College and Professional Sports as well as entertainment, political and proposition wagering news.

©1999-2013 TheSpread.com