Arizona’s NCAA loss to Princeton is totally unacceptable
No. 2 Arizona can’t lose to No. 15 Princeton.
Not after what Princeton almost did to Georgetown in 1989. Not after what Princeton did to UCLA in 1996. Not after what Arizona State did to Nevada on Wednesday!
This is bad for Arizona fans, who will have to take prank calls and taunts from ASU fans from now until eternity. It’s bad for Tommy Lloyd, who has to deal with unflattering comparisons to Sean Miller. This for the Pac-12, which, like buggy whip manufacturers, is struggling for relevance in the Model T age. And it’s bad for the nation as President Joe Biden picked UA to win it all!
Unlike Sun Devil fans, Wildcats boosters plan their lives around Arizona men’s basketball. In the Phoenix area, ASU basketball is an afterthought. Down in Tucson, UA Hoops is life.
Arizona remained scoreless for the last 5 minutes, proving that nerves can play a role even at the highest level of basketball. Blueblood teams just can’t allow brave opponents to just keep the score in games like this. After halftime, it looked like UA had things under control, but the Wildcats couldn’t match the Tigers’ intensity when it mattered.
Brackets are broken. Play money has been lost. And the pride is shattered.
Tommy Lloyd topped the world just a week ago after winning the Pac-12 for the second straight year. Now? He probably doesn’t want to get off the plane in southern Arizona for a few weeks.
He has to answer if that loss was worse than Sean Miller, who fell to Buffalo in 2018.
From here it wasn’t. Miller had the #1 draft pick in Deandre Ayton, as well as a slew of blue chippers. Additionally, then-Buffalo coach Nate Oats now leads Alabama, which took first place overall at this year’s tournament.
But maybe… Nobody thought much of Buffalo back then. And although Princeton’s big moments in the Big Dance happened a million years ago, the Tigers are known for forging and fundamentalizing their way into shockingly big schools.
Regardless of which loss you thought was worse, who would want to have that conversation anyway?!
Especially after Arizona State and the Flyin’ Bobby Hurleys looked like they might qualify for the NBA playoffs a day earlier. This is the kind of thing that little brother fan bases, like the ASU men’s basketball fans, live to hold their own against their state rivals who have national title ambitions every year, like UA.
The Pac-12 fights for relevance. That does not help. At all.
As the conference falls apart over the next five years, analysts will look back at that loss and wonder if it was the beginning of the end.
And poor Joe Biden. The president is trying to bring a divided nation together and singled out UA in a play that could have won him support in a vital swing state. Instead, he looks like a bandwagoner kissing to earn brownie points. And if it feels unfair, hard cookies. That comes with tradition and expectation.
ASU fans have been looking forward to having their weekends off. UA fans have budgeted flights and hotels in Houston for the Final Four.
This is totally unacceptable.
It could happen to any team in any tournament, but it’s Lloyd’s job to make sure it doesn’t happen to his team or his fans.
He had better win some games in March next season, otherwise the talks about his program, his conference and even his nation will sound very different.
You can reach Moore at [email protected] or 602-444-2236. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @SayingMoore.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona being one and done in the NCAAs and losing to Princeton is unacceptable