The Arizona Wildcats have been hands-down the consensus no. 1 overall team in college basketball for a large portion of the season, but may have fallen from their perch after a close win over the Stanford Cardinal.
The Wildcats suffered at the hands of arguably Aaron Gordon’s worst game of the season. He only had five points on 10 shots, but the team was saved by a 16-point performance from Nick Johnson. Arizona was also hindered by missing 11 free throws in a game that should have been an easy win for the Wildcats. The no. 1 overall team in the country ended up scraping by with a 60-57 win and the Wildcats are lucky to have escaped with a victory over a very good defensive team.
The PAC-12 is not the Big 10 or Big 12 talent-wise. Stanford is a good team that legitimately has a chance at making it to the NIT, but that’s not an excuse for the no. 1 team to almost take their first loss of the season. If Arizona struggles against PAC-12 opponents like UCLA and Stanford, what will they be like once the 2014 NCAA Tournament begins and all of their opposition is far better than in the PAC-12?
I’m not saying that Arizona isn’t deserving of being no. 1; they are undefeated with wins over decent opposition. However, close wins over weak teams like Stanford mean that an also-undefeated Syracuse Orange team with a better overall schedule can steal the no. 1 overall seed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Expect big things from Arizona moving forward in both the PAC-12 and the 2014 NCAA tournament, but they cannot afford to fall asleep on a team like Stanford again.