Sean Miller, Bo Ryan vie to make first Final Four appearance
After Saturday, the debate for the top active coach without a Final Four appearance likely will be settled.
It’s one neither Bo Ryan nor Sean Miller want to win.
The coaches at Wisconsin and Arizona have accomplished much in their careers, and both are considered among the best in the game. Yet neither has checked off one box in their careers: A Final Four appearance.
Ryan and Miller are a combined 0-3 in the Elite Eight. That will change Saturday in the West regional final.
"It would mean a lot (to reach the Final Four)," Miller said. "Probably it would mean no more or no less for me than any coach who is coaching in this round. Everybody knows the two words Final Four mean a great deal to programs, universities. I follow like everybody does, the reaction of our fans and fans of other programs, and it's just amazing to see the outpour on campuses when you see a team get closer and closer to a Final Four."
Time: 8:30 p.m. Eastern
Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr
Region: West (Anaheim)
Athlon Editor Picks
David Fox: Wisconsin 68-65
Braden Gall: Arizona 69-65
Mitch Light: Arizona 78-77
Nathan Rush: Arizona 68-66
Little went right for Arizona early in its Sweet 16 matchup against San Diego State. Nick Johnson missed his first 10 shots, and San Diego State owned the boards early in the game. Arizona chipped away before Johnson made his final two shots and 10 of 10 free throws to win 70-64.
How Wisconsin got here:
The Badgers have proven to be one of the most versatile offensive teams left in the Tournament. Consider this: The Badgers have two players averaging 14 points per game in the tournament. One is the 7-foot center Frank Kaminsky and the other is jump shooter Ben Brust.
Key for Arizona to get to the Final Four: Crack the Wisconsin offense
Wisconsin has assisted on 46 of 81 field goals in the NCAA Tournament, highlighted by Thursday's showcase against Baylor. Arizona's Nick Johnson is one of the nation’s top perimeter defenders, and Aaron Gordon is an elite athlete. Shutting down the passing lanes will be key to slowing down this Wisconsin attack.
Key for Wisconsin to get to the Final Four: Crack the Arizona defense
Wisconsin picked apart Baylor’s zone with crisp ball movement along with Frank Kaminsky’s moves around the basket. That’s going to be much more different against Arizona’s defense, which prefers man-to-man defense. Wisconsin is fourth nationally in offensive efficiency on KenPom.com, but Arizona is first in defensive efficiency.
Player to watch: Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Why was Arizona able to comeback from six points down early in the second half despite a cold shooting night from Johnson? The answer is Gordon. He helped Arizona stay in the game despite opportunities for the Aztecs to pull away late. His highlight reel dunk narrowed the game to 40-38 and Arizona never looked back.