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No. 1 Arizona focused despite critics


Arizona was a popular pick to become an upset victim against Belmont in last year’s NCAA tournament. This year, the Wildcats have been tabbed by some to be the first No. 1 seed to get knocked off, possibly by their second game.

Yeah, it’s annoying to constantly be doubted, especially with everything Arizona has accomplished under coach Sean Miller.

All the Wildcats can do is shrug and keep their focus on what’s in front of them.

“The bottom line is, just win,” Miller said. “It’s not about talking or predicting. Unfortunately, the people who predict, no one ever holds them to their prediction. They go on and make another prediction. It’s an awesome job. If you’re right, great, if you’re not, who cares? Just do it again.”

The Wildcats have had a knack quieting the doubters.

They put a quick end to the upset talk against Belmont last year, overpowering the Bruins in a 17-point win. Even after bouncing Belmont, Arizona still had doubters, picked by some to lose to Harvard. The Wildcats make a mockery of that, too, rolling the Crimson by 23 on their way to the Elite Eight.

Doubts crept up again this season when sophomore forward Brandon Ashley went down with a season-ending foot injury on Feb. 1. No way could the Wildcats survive without one of their best players was what they heard.

Again, they refused to listen, using the perceived slight as chip-on-their-shoulder motivation to win the Pac-12 regular-season title and reach the conference championship game.

Now, the Wildcats are hearing it again.

Not in the opening game. No one is really expecting Weber State to take down Arizona on Friday in San Diego; no No. 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 and the desert version of Wildcats appear to be too deep and athletic for the ones from Utah.

The supposed problem for Arizona comes after that, possibly on Sunday by ninth-seeded Oklahoma State if the Cowboys get past Gonzaga in their opening game. After that, it could be San Diego State in the next round, possibly Creighton or Oregon after that, surely by No. 2 Wisconsin in the West Regional final.

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