NCAA Tournament Predictions: West Region: 6. Arizona vs. 11. Belmont

 Arizona (25-7, 12-6 Pac-12)- The Wildcats raced out to a 14-0 start and climbed as high as No. 4 in the national rankings. Arizona defeated Florida, Miami, and San Diego State in that span, and appeared in the race for a 1-seed for a while. But Arizona stumbled in the second half of the season, losing 5 of its last 10 conference games.

Mark Lyons (AP)

Mark Lyons (AP)

Xavier transfer Mark Lyons leads the ‘Cats in scoring at 14.8 points per game. 6-7 forward Solomon Hill is a terrific big man (13.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg), and sophomore guard Nick Johnson can fill it up in a hurry. The Wildcats employ a lot of ball pressure on defense and have come from behind in several of their wins this season.

They came from eight down with just over a minute to go to beat Florida at home. This team is extremely young, however, with Lyons and guard Kevin Parrom the only seniors on the roster who get major minutes.


99th Rebounds Per Game (36.3)

47th Points Per Game (73.3)

 11 Belmont (26-6, 14-2, Ohio Valley Conference)-The Bruins are led by hard-nosed, do-everything guard Kerron Johnson (13.7 ppg, 4.8 apg), who willed Belmont back into the Big Dance by knocking down two clutch free-throw line jumpers at the end of the OVC championship game against Murray State.

Kerron Johnson (AP)

Kerron Johnson (AP)

Fellow senior and backcourt mate Ian Clark is also a tremendous option down the stretch. He led Belmont in scoring at 18.1 ppg and was named co-Ohio Valley Player of the Year and OVC Defensive Player of the Year (a rare combo). The Bruins are led by longtime coach Rick Byrd, who has recorded 637 wins in his illustrious career and has led Belmont to the NCAAs in six of the last eight seasons.

Belmont has the experience and guile to pull off an early-round upset or two. Some analysts have said that the Bruins may have gotten an at-large bid had they not gotten past Murray State in the OVC final. This team is deep, tough, and tournament-tested. They’re also one of the best shooting teams in the country, and can put up points in a hurry.


4th Field Goal Percentage (.494)

16th Points Per Game (77.2)

18th Assists Per Game (15.9)





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