March 18, 2001
REGIONAL: Midwest, second round.
TIME: Sunday, 2:20 p.m. EST.
SITE: Kemper Arena, Kansas City, Mo.
While Arizona has reverted to its preseason form as the top-ranked team inthe country, it will try to avoid another postseason upset as it plays Butlerin the second round of the NCAA tournament in the Midwest Region.
The second-seeded Wildcats, aside from their 1996 run to the NCAA tournamenttitle, have had a dubious history as a top seed. Arizona has failed to reachthe regional semifinals five times since 1991 while being seeded no lower thanfifth at any point the last 10 years.
But Lute Olson's team was impressive in its 101-76 dismantling of15th-seeded Eastern Illinois in the first round Friday. Loren Woods and MichaelWright each scored 17 points while Gilbert Arenas completed a potentinside-outside attack with a team-high 21 points.
Arizona is quite familiar with 10th-seeded Butler, having handed theBulldogs a 72-60 loss at the McKale Center in December. That game was afour-point contest with 1:30 to play before the Wildcats made their free throwsdown the stretch.
'No one has a huge advantage,' Woods said. 'Butler's hungry. We'rehungry. They played us three months ago down to the wire. Height didn't matterthen and it doesn't matter now.'
Butler nearly blitzed Wake Forest out of Kemper Arena on Friday, holding theDemon Deacons without a basket the first nine minutes of the game and stormingto a 43-10 halftime lead. The Bulldogs advanced with a 79-63 win, erasing thepainful memories of a last-second defeat to eventual NCAA tournament finalistFlorida from last season.
'This team has a goal of reaching the Sweet 16 and Friday put us 40 minutescloser. Now we've drawn maybe the best team in the country,' Butler coach ThadMatta said.
The Bulldogs have made only one appearance in the regional semifinals,getting there in their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance in 1962.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Butler - F Rylan Hainje (11.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg), F LaVallJordan (12.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg), C Joel Cornette (9.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg), G BrandonMiller (11.9 ppg, 3.1 apg), G Thomas Jackson (13.2 ppg, 4.4 apg). Arizona - FMichael Wright (16.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg), F Richard Jefferson (10.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg), CLoren Woods (12.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg), G Jason Gardner (10.5 ppg, 4.4 apg), G GilbertArenas (16.7 ppg, 2.3 apg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Butler - Automatic bid, Midwestern Collegiate Conferencetournament champion, defeated No. 7 Wake Forest 79-63 in first round. Arizona -At-large bid, Pac-10 Conference, defeated No. 15 Eastern Illinois 101-76 infirst round.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Butler - 3-4, 5 years. Arizona - 28-18, 20years.