BLOG: Arizona is not an elite basketball program

Posted at 11:35 AM, Mar 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-16 14:41:24-04

Every UA men's basketball home game features a pregame intro video that includes a laundry list of the program's accomplishments as read by former Wildcat greats.

McKale Center legends such as Steve Kerr, Jason Terry, Derrick Williams and, of course, Lute Olson appear on the big screen to remind us of the program's feats.

Nineteen teams have made more Final Four appearances than UA has.

Sixty-nine NBA draft picks. Thirty-two conference championships. Twenty-eight All-Americans. Seventeen Sweet Sixteens. Eleven Elite Eights.

UA checks each of those boxes, all of which are important to the reputation of any program.

But it's the final two figures mentioned in the pregame video -- four Final Fours, one national championship -- that reveal that, despite being one of the nation's most respected programs, the Arizona Wildcats are not among the very best in college hoops.

Yes, conference titles, All-Americans, NBA draft picks, NCAA Tournament appearances -- they all matter. But goals No. 1 and 1A for every program -- national titles and Final Four appearances -- happen to be the two in which the Wildcats are deficient.


-Arizona's most recent Final Four appearance came 15 years ago, and its one and only national title came four years before that.

-Nineteen teams have made more Final Four appearances than UA has.

-Thirteen teams have made multiple Final Four trips since the last time the Wildcats punched their ticket. In fact, Arizona's first-round NCAA Tournament opponent on Thursday, 11th-seeded Wichita State, advanced to the Final Four just three years ago. (The Shockers got there by defeating Ohio State, which beat UA one round earlier.)

-Fourteen teams have won more national titles (that is, at least two), and another 20 teams have won one title apiece.

Thirteen teams have made multiple Final Fours since the last time the Wildcats punched their ticket.

To be sure, Sean Miller has done a tremendous job in just seven seasons in Tucson. Under Miller, the Wildcats have racked up three Pac-12 regular-season championships and a conference tournament title. They have made four Sweet Sixteen appearances and three Elite Eights. And they've produced two Pac-12 Players of the Year and seven NBA draft picks.

In that same intro video, Miller refers to Arizona as "a player's program." The numbers certainly back that claim up.

But until it improves upon Goals 1 and 1A, UA can't reasonably label itself as an elite program.