Mar 25, 2024 - News

Cats are the last Pac-12 team standing in March Madness

A basketball player celebrates with a hand gesture.

Arizona's Pelle Larsson celebrates during Saturday's win. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats now have the distinction of being the last Pac-12 team — ever — in the NCAA tournament.

  • And the Cats are the last Arizona team standing in this year's tourney.

The big picture: The Cats notched a 10-point win over Dayton Saturday in the second round, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the 21st time in program history.

  • UofA will play 6-seed Clemson at 4:09pm Thursday in Los Angeles after the Tigers upset 3-seed Baylor on Sunday.

Zoom in: Dayton's star player is DaRon Holmes II, who was Arizona's high school player of the year in 2020 at Millennium High School.

Driving the news: In its third tournament appearance in four years, Grand Canyon University won its first March Madness game Friday when the 12-seed Lopes upset 5-seed Saint Mary's.

  • But GCU's run came to an end Sunday with a hard-fought loss to 4-seed Alabama.
  • The loss eliminated the possibility of an Elite 8 matchup between UofA and GCU, though GCU would've still had to get past 1-seed North Carolina first.
  • The Lopes suffered the same fate as almost every double-digit seed in the tournament's second round. The only one to win a game was 11-seed NC State, and it wasn't an upset since the Wolfpack defeated 14-seed Oakland.

Between the lines: The pride of the Pac-12 in its final season before the conference dissolves is up to the Cats.

  • Colorado, Oregon and Washington State all won their first-round games — Colorado had to beat Boise State in a play-in game to reach the round of 64 — but fell in the second round over the weekend.

Zoom out: It's not technically an Arizona school, but Nebraska-based Creighton, which has a major presence in the Valley, advanced to the Sweet 16 after a double-overtime win against Oregon.

In the women's tournament, the Cats won a play-in game Thursday to earn a spot as an 11-seed in the round of 64, but lost their first-round game to 6-seed Syracuse.

By the numbers: It's not just on the hardwood where March Madness competition is happening. Axios Phoenix readers are competing against each other — and against Jeremy and Jessica — in our tournament pool.

  • Sean N. is in first place with 520 points. He not only has all his Final Four teams left alive, but he correctly picked 14 of the 16 remaining teams.
  • Adriana J. is in second with 510 points, also hitting 14 Sweet 16 teams but having only three Final Four teams alive. She picked Kentucky to go to the championship game.
  • Jeremy is 14th out of 59 entries and Jessica is 29th. Both lost three Final Four teams in the first two rounds and have only Purdue remaining.
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