Arizona will play North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, tonight, in Salt Lake City.
Arizona, the number two seed in the west, is one of the hottest teams in the country after winning the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles. The Wildcats have advanced to the Elite Eight three times under coach Sean Miller, but have not reached the Final Four since 2001. Anything less will be a disappointment.
"It was good winning the Pac-12 Tournament," said senior guard Kadeem Allen. "But, it's time to move on and face other opponents. We intend to bring our best game, and hopefully get the job done in the NCAA Tournament."
"All of us are judged by what we do in March," said Wildcat head coach Sean Miller. "And I think for us to duck that, or to look at that as not being the case, is somewhat unrealistic."
Freshman forward Lauri Markkanen is expected to be a high first-round pick in the NBA draft if he leaves after the tournament. He averaged 15.6 points per game, 7.1 rebounds and shot 43.2 percent from 3-point range.
Guard Allonzo Trier missed the first 19 games of the season due to testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. He has been on a tear since returning, averaging 17.3 points per game and being named Most Outstanding Player of the Pac-12 Tournament.
"Allonzo, I believe is one of the best guards in the tournament, said Miller. "I am proudest of how he has learned to pass the ball and play with others better than he has before. Defensively, he is rock solid. As he has played his best, it has brought out the best in our team as well."
Meanwhile, The Fighting Hawks are making their NCAA Tournament debut as a Division I program. The Big Sky regular season, and tournament champions average 80 points per game. North Dakota advanced to the Elite Eight seven times while in Division II. The athletic department became a full-time member of Division I in 2012-13.