Strength of schedule toughened Arizona - The Explorer: Sports

Strength of schedule toughened Arizona

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Posted: Friday, December 27, 2013 4:20 pm

After top-ranked Arizona completed its 72-70 win at Michigan earlier this month, Wildcats freshman Aaron Gordon said he and his teammates had debunked any stereotypes about residing in the West.

You know, the "soft" label.

Junior guard Nick Johnson echoed the sentiment.

"We're not just a West Coast team, a top team that stays at home and plays easy teams," Johnson said, according to Sports Illustrated. "We want to test ourselves."

History shows that strong nonconference schedules pay off in March, too.

Four wins in the Wildcats' 13-0 start have come away from McKale Center. All four provided some sort of adversity.

There was the 19-point deficit against Drexel in New York City, followed by the grind-it-out victory over a top-10 Duke team. Michigan had its best overall team performance to date and nine-point halftime cushion before UA weathered that storm. And, of course, it all started in mid-November - just the third game of the season - in a hostile San Diego State environment against a program that now finds itself ranked 20th.

Looking back at the last five national champions, those teams had similar obstacles.

The 2008-09 North Carolina team hosted Kentucky, flew out to UC Santa Barbara three nights later and then found itself in the Maui Invitational three days after that. The Tar Heels knocked off Oregon and a top-10 Notre Dame team en route to the tournament title.

In 2009-10, Duke claimed the NIT Season Tip-Off crown with a championship game win over top-15 Connecticut. The Blue Devils followed it up with a four-point loss at perennial NCAA tournament team Wisconsin and a trip back to New York City to take down No. 15 Gonzaga.

The following season, Connecticut did not just catch fire in March. The foundation of the magical season started with a Maui Invitational championship, highlighted by wins over No. 2 Michigan State and No. 9 Kentucky. Oddly enough, the Huskies went on to lose their five remaining games against ranked opponents that regular season before pulling it together in the tournament.

Kentucky may have been young in 2011-12 but it was seasoned come the Big Dance. The Wildcats collected home wins over No. 12 Kansas, No. 5 North Carolina and No. 4 Louisville, with a loss at Indiana sandwiched in-between.

Last season, Louisville defeated No. 13 Missouri before losing to No. 5 Duke in the same Battle at the Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. The Cardinals also won at Memphis before returning the favor against Kentucky.

The nonconference slate is never easy to plan, as many marquee games are agreed upon years in advance. In the one-and-done nature of college basketball, strong teams can quickly look mediocre by the following year.

Like the NCAA tournament, some good fortune is needed along the way. But the recipe for postseason success includes a key ingredient Arizona clearly has in its kitchen.

(Editor’s Note: Get all your Arizona Wildcats news at www.goazcats.com)

After top-ranked Arizona completed its 72-70 win at Michigan earlier this month, Wildcats freshman Aaron Gordon said he and his teammates had debunked any stereotypes about residing in the West.
You know, the "soft" label.
Junior guard Nick Johnson echoed the sentiment.
"We're not just a West Coast team, a top team that stays at home and plays easy teams," Johnson said, according to Sports Illustrated. "We want to test ourselves."
History shows that strong nonconference schedules pay off in March, too.
Four wins in the Wildcats' 13-0 start have come away from McKale Center. All four provided some sort of adversity.
There was the 19-point deficit against Drexel in New York City, followed by the grind-it-out victory over a top-10 Duke team. Michigan had its best overall team performance to date and nine-point halftime cushion before UA weathered that storm. And, of course, it all started in mid-November - just the third game of the season - in a hostile San Diego State environment against a program that now finds itself ranked 20th.
Looking back at the last five national champions, those teams had similar obstacles.
The 2008-09 North Carolina team hosted Kentucky, flew out to UC Santa Barbara three nights later and then found itself in the Maui Invitational three days after that. The Tar Heels knocked off Oregon and a top-10 Notre Dame team en route to the tournament title.
In 2009-10, Duke claimed the NIT Season Tip-Off crown with a championship game win over top-15 Connecticut. The Blue Devils followed it up with a four-point loss at perennial NCAA tournament team Wisconsin and a trip back to New York City to take down No. 15 Gonzaga.
The following season, Connecticut did not just catch fire in March. The foundation of the magical season started with a Maui Invitational championship, highlighted by wins over No. 2 Michigan State and No. 9 Kentucky. Oddly enough, the Huskies went on to lose their five remaining games against ranked opponents that regular season before pulling it together in the tournament.
Kentucky may have been young in 2011-12 but it was seasoned come the Big Dance. The Wildcats collected home wins over No. 12 Kansas, No. 5 North Carolina and No. 4 Louisville, with a loss at Indiana sandwiched in-between.
Last season, Louisville defeated No. 13 Missouri before losing to No. 5 Duke in the same Battle at the Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. The Cardinals also won at Memphis before returning the favor against Kentucky.
The nonconference slate is never easy to plan, as many marquee games are agreed upon years in advance. In the one-and-done nature of college basketball, strong teams can quickly look mediocre by the following year.
Like the NCAA tournament, some good fortune is needed along the way. But the recipe for postseason success includes a key ingredient Arizona clearly has in its kitchen.

(Editor’s Note: Get all your Arizona Wilcats news at www.goazcats.com)After top-ranked Arizona completed its 72-70 win at Michigan earlier this month, Wildcats freshman Aaron Gordon said he and his teammates had debunked any stereotypes about residing in the West.

You know, the "soft" label.

Junior guard Nick Johnson echoed the sentiment.

Rick Osentoski--USA TODAY Sports
Nick Johnson (middle) and Arizona took it to the biggest teams on its schedule and are stronger after escaping with a 13-0 nonconference record.
"We're not just a West Coast team, a top team that stays at home and plays easy teams," Johnson said, according to Sports Illustrated. "We want to test ourselves."

History shows that strong nonconference schedules pay off in March, too.

Four wins in the Wildcats' 13-0 start have come away from McKale Center. All four provided some sort of adversity.

There was the 19-point deficit against Drexel in New York City, followed by the grind-it-out victory over a top-10 Duke team. Michigan had its best overall team performance to date and nine-point halftime cushion before UA weathered that storm. And, of course, it all started in mid-November - just the third game of the season - in a hostile San Diego State environment against a program that now finds itself ranked 20th.

Looking back at the last five national champions, those teams had similar obstacles.

The 2008-09 North Carolina team hosted Kentucky, flew out to UC Santa Barbara three nights later and then found itself in the Maui Invitational three days after that. The Tar Heels knocked off Oregon and a top-10 Notre Dame team en route to the tournament title.

In 2009-10, Duke claimed the NIT Season Tip-Off crown with a championship game win over top-15 Connecticut. The Blue Devils followed it up with a four-point loss at perennial NCAA tournament team Wisconsin and a trip back to New York City to take down No. 15 Gonzaga.

The following season, Connecticut did not just catch fire in March. The foundation of the magical season started with a Maui Invitational championship, highlighted by wins over No. 2 Michigan State and No. 9 Kentucky. Oddly enough, the Huskies went on to lose their five remaining games against ranked opponents that regular season before pulling it together in the tournament.

Kentucky may have been young in 2011-12 but it was seasoned come the Big Dance. The Wildcats collected home wins over No. 12 Kansas, No. 5 North Carolina and No. 4 Louisville, with a loss at Indiana sandwiched in-between.

Last season, Louisville defeated No. 13 Missouri before losing to No. 5 Duke in the same Battle at the Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. The Cardinals also won at Memphis before returning the favor against Kentucky.

The nonconference slate is never easy to plan, as many marquee games are agreed upon years in advance. In the one-and-done nature of college basketball, strong teams can quickly look mediocre by the following year.

Like the NCAA tournament, some good fortune is needed along the way. But the recipe for postseason success includes a key ingredient Arizona clearly has in its kitchen. - See more at: http://arizona.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1591007&PT=4&PR=2#sthash.bmtAotvK.dpuf
After top-ranked Arizona completed its 72-70 win at Michigan earlier this month, Wildcats freshman Aaron Gordon said he and his teammates had debunked any stereotypes about residing in the West.

You know, the "soft" label.

Junior guard Nick Johnson echoed the sentiment.

Rick Osentoski--USA TODAY Sports
Nick Johnson (middle) and Arizona took it to the biggest teams on its schedule and are stronger after escaping with a 13-0 nonconference record.
"We're not just a West Coast team, a top team that stays at home and plays easy teams," Johnson said, according to Sports Illustrated. "We want to test ourselves."

History shows that strong nonconference schedules pay off in March, too.

Four wins in the Wildcats' 13-0 start have come away from McKale Center. All four provided some sort of adversity.

There was the 19-point deficit against Drexel in New York City, followed by the grind-it-out victory over a top-10 Duke team. Michigan had its best overall team performance to date and nine-point halftime cushion before UA weathered that storm. And, of course, it all started in mid-November - just the third game of the season - in a hostile San Diego State environment against a program that now finds itself ranked 20th.

Looking back at the last five national champions, those teams had similar obstacles.

The 2008-09 North Carolina team hosted Kentucky, flew out to UC Santa Barbara three nights later and then found itself in the Maui Invitational three days after that. The Tar Heels knocked off Oregon and a top-10 Notre Dame team en route to the tournament title.

In 2009-10, Duke claimed the NIT Season Tip-Off crown with a championship game win over top-15 Connecticut. The Blue Devils followed it up with a four-point loss at perennial NCAA tournament team Wisconsin and a trip back to New York City to take down No. 15 Gonzaga.

The following season, Connecticut did not just catch fire in March. The foundation of the magical season started with a Maui Invitational championship, highlighted by wins over No. 2 Michigan State and No. 9 Kentucky. Oddly enough, the Huskies went on to lose their five remaining games against ranked opponents that regular season before pulling it together in the tournament.

Kentucky may have been young in 2011-12 but it was seasoned come the Big Dance. The Wildcats collected home wins over No. 12 Kansas, No. 5 North Carolina and No. 4 Louisville, with a loss at Indiana sandwiched in-between.

Last season, Louisville defeated No. 13 Missouri before losing to No. 5 Duke in the same Battle at the Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. The Cardinals also won at Memphis before returning the favor against Kentucky.

The nonconference slate is never easy to plan, as many marquee games are agreed upon years in advance. In the one-and-done nature of college basketball, strong teams can quickly look mediocre by the following year.

Like the NCAA tournament, some good fortune is needed along the way. But the recipe for postseason success includes a key ingredient Arizona clearly has in its kitchen. - See more at: http://arizona.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1591007&PT=4&PR=2#sthash.bmtAotvK.dpuf

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Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

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