The bracket in the West Regional suddenly looks wide-open, given No. 1 Gonzaga’s struggle to beat Southern in its opener and losses by No. 3 New Mexico and No. 5 Wisconsin.
No. 6 Arizona is heavily favored to defeat No. 14 Harvard on Saturday, but coach Sean Miller insists the Wildcats haven’t notice the turmoil among the teams seeded ahead of them.
"No seed matters," he said. "It’s about Arizona being at its very best — doing the things we do the best we can and being ready to go. We know we have to play a great game [against Harvard]. If anything less than that happens, we’ll be going home."
Don’t call us Cinderella
When asked if he considers his 27-win Wichita State Shockers a "Cinderella" team, redshirt freshman Ron Baker gave an appropriate answer.
"To me, it’s just an opinion to somebody else, really, if they call us a Cinderella team," he said. "You can call us whatever you want. We’re just trying to get as far in the tournament as we can and just play every game as hard as we can."
Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was a bit more receptive to the idea, but said that the majority of mid-major programs are no longer Cinderellas.
He pointed to Gonzaga, now the No. 1 team in the country, Butler, George Mason and VCU as programs who have emerged from the dust of being labeled a Cinderella.
"It’s a five-step process," he said, "and we’re on step one. Beating Gonzaga would possibly elevate us to step three."
NCAA Tournament officials say 3,000 tickets remain for Saturday’s Arizona-Harvard and Gonzaga-Wichita State games at EnergySolutions Arena.
The lower bowl is sold out. The remaining tickets are upper bowl only. They can be purchased at the arena box office or online at Smithstix.com.
More tickets are likely available on the secondary market following the departure of some fans from New Mexico, Pitt, Belmont and Southern, whose teams lost on Thursday.
On Thursday, the opening session of the West Regional featured Gonzaga’s 64-58 win over Southern and Wichita State’s 73-55 rout of Pittsburgh. It drew a crowd of 12,621.
The evening session crowd of 14,345 watched Arizona’s 81-64 win over Belmont and Harvard’s 68-62 upset of New Mexico.
Pangos is clutch
With his performance down the stretch against Southern, Gonzaga guard Kevin Pangos is making a reputation for himself as a clutch competitor who comes up big when the stakes are at its highest.
During Friday’s news conferences, the sophomore found himself mentioned with some of the great Bulldogs guards past, like Matt Santangelo, Jeremy Pargo and Blake Stepp.Next Page >
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