NCAA Championship: What to Watch When Arizona Wildcats Men’s Basketball Face Houston at Sweet 16

San Antonio – The Arizona Wildcats are two games away from the Final Four, having survived their opening weekend in San Diego thanks to some late-game championships.

Now comes a tougher test against Houston. The Fifth-seeded Cougars (31-5) easily won the first two NCAA games, and since losing in the regular season final in Memphis have won by five consecutive points average of 16, defeating fourth-placed Illinois 68-53 in the second round.

“I am very impressed with the way their players do what they are asked to do,” said the coach Tommy Lloyd He said. “Just the effort they play with. They make the most of every effort zone. They are well trained in attack. They know the shots they want to take. They know who to take them, where they’re coming from, and they’re clearly doing an amazing job offensively. That being said, defensively, the effort and energy with which they play and the attention to detail, are almost unparalleled.”

Houston plays its third consecutive role on Sweet 16, having reached the Final Four a year ago, while Arizona is looking for its first Elite Eight appearance since 2015.

Here’s what to watch when Wildcats — who are a 1.5-point favorite, at DraftKings Sportsbook — and Cougars collide at AT&T Center:

Size matters, but so does what you do with it

Arizona is the second tallest team in the state in terms of the average height of its rotating players, but that didn’t stop TCU from getting past it and going crazy with offensive glass. Houston is 99 years oldy At average length, but like horned frogs, they are offensive bouncing stones, ranking third in the nation in that category.

Cougars start as a single player over 6-foot-8, senior striker Josh Carlton (6-11), but outnumber their opponents by 7.3 per game and have five players averaging at least 4.8 plates per game.

“A lot of teams in the tournament are going to have size,” said Carlton. “That’s the factor so far in the season. Just being physical and getting off the paint, having a body on it, doing boxing, making sure you’re working on it. They have to stop us from getting on the boards and defending us, so just keep them active and keep up. their physical fitness.

Houston coach Carlton said Kelvin Sampson He recruits guys who are good at bouncing at first, but once they’re on the team, the real training begins.

“The first thing he does is he punches it in you,” he said. “He puts a bubble on edge, and we do a bubble exercise. It’s a fight. There are no artificial shots when the bubble is in there. Every board is ready to be grabbed. So it’s definitely digged into us, and I think it’s really hard for teams to watch out or explore because it’s all Possession. Every possession we have four men on the glass. We know we’ll be able to get a chance to do that again against Arizona, so that’s going to be a huge focus for us.”

Lloyd said Houston is “taking it to another level” with its throwback, but notes that Arizona is 15y in the same category. However, the difference is Arizona 193research and development Nationally in defensive rebound, while Houston is 146ySo, both teams are ready to get plenty of second chances.

Hey, listen, they’re going to have some offensive rebounds,” Lloyd said. “That’s just what they do, and that’s how the game goes. We just have to do a great job fighting and hopefully we can get that number down.”

How does the whistle blow?

One factor that neither Arizona nor Houston will have complete control over is how the game is run. If it’s anything like what it was in San Diego, especially against the TCU, Arizona could be in trouble given that cougars can be more physical when it comes to paint than horned frogs.

If there is a strong whistle, Houston could be in deep trouble. Sampson admitted it

“The critical problem is one of the things we have to … be afraid of,” Sampson said. “We don’t have the depth in the backcourt. Then the fatigue. But we deal with that all year round. Every coach has to deal with these things, so I don’t think we are unique or special.”

Houston 286y Nationally in the defensive free throw attempt rate, it is the fifth-worst among NCAA Championship teams and only behind St. Peter’s among those still alive. Translation: Cougars are pretty foul, and Arizona—which ranks 60th in offensive FTA rate—loves to hit the line.

The Wildcats’ 770 fouls this season ranked fifth in shots in the country, 152 more than Houston, who allowed 40 more free throw attempts than were made. And Cougars are so bad at the streak, shooting just 66.7 percent (Arizona 73.9 percent, 80.7 percent in PAC 12 and NCAA).

The Wildcats average 19-1 when trying at least 20 free throws, and the Colorado’s only loss was when they topped that number during litter time. So, if there’s ever a game that Arizona fans desperately want the judges to get involved in, it might be this one.

Good Azuolas or Invisible Azuolas?

Azulas Toplice I played only 16 minutes against TCU, hardly any in the second half and none in overtime. Lloyd then said the matches weren’t good for Tobilis, who struggled when faced with physically big men.

“I expect him to play really well” against Houston, Lloyd said. “Obviously, I think he would have liked to play more and would have liked to play better is the most important thing. Often, talented young players like Zu come to a crossroads in their careers. You start playing in these high level, high pressure games, You must be able to perform.

“So I talked to him about it. How are you going to be able to play against great, aggressive athletes in a knockout type situation? So I think this struggle is good for him, and I think he will be a better player for him. Hopefully the show starts tomorrow.”

Topless said he understood Lloyd’s decision not to play with him of late.

“I think it worked well,” he said. “We won the game. So I am happy for that. I just need to play the same. I am still training hard, and I will play hard tomorrow.”

crowd makeup

Houston is only three hours from San Antonio, so the chances of a lot of red in the crowd won’t just be because Arizona fans take a trip to River City.

“I think our fans should be there,” Cougars guard Keeler Edwards He said. “I think it must be noisy for us.”

UA had a large following in Las Vegas (McKale North) for the Pac-12 Championships and in San Diego, but that may be much more than the feel of a neutral position due to AT&T’s 18,000 seat capacity and no direct seats on a tennis court.

Lloyd is fine with whatever group meltdown is, and it seems like he doesn’t mind not being as partisan for his team as last weekends.

“Sometimes, instead of being in a neutral environment, you’d rather be in a slightly more hostile environment,” he said. “Obviously, Houston, close to it, is going to have a big audience, but I think the Wildcat Nation will show up. I think our fan base is excited. They love being in that position. I think they’re going to have it tomorrow.”

How do the players like? CARE KRESSA And Dalene Terry You plan to interact with the crowd, especially those of the opponent, it depends on how the game goes.

“I mean, we’re just trying to win the match,” Chrissa said. “It’s not that I’m looking forward to waving to the Houston fans or things like that. We’re just trying to win the game. If we win the game, we’ll tell them we won the game. But if we lose, we’ll shake hands with them and say good game and try to come back here next year.”

Terry added, “When we win the game, it’s not going to be personal with the other team’s fans. We’re just idiots. We’re all young and idiots. We just love to have fun. We just want to win the game for real.”

Numbers don’t lie

It will be the first time Arizona State has played at the AT&T Center, which last hosted the NCAA Championship games in 2014, but played the championship games in San Antonio. The Wildcats defeated the Midwest’s Ole Miss and Illinois in 2001 at the Alamodome en route to the Final Four in Minneapolis and lost to Duke in the national title game.

This is one of the many perfect records that the UA has at stake in this game.

Arizona is 3-0 against the No. 5 seed, with wins over her in 1988, 2003 and 2009. It’s also 3-0 on March 24, with all three wins in Sweet 16: 1994 against Louisville, 2005 against Oklahoma State and 2011 against the Duke.

When it comes to this season, the Wildcats are 7-0 in neutral site matches and 8-0 on Thursday. From a statistical point of view, the criteria that heralded victory include scoring 80 points (28-0), shooting 50 percent (22-0) and making 10 three-pointers (9-0).