The #4 Arizona Wildcats will face off against East Tennessee State this Saturday at 8:30PM (Arizona Time, ESPNU) in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. In addition to Arizona and East Tennessee State, the Wildcats’ side of the bracket also features Miami (Fl.) vs. Hawaii. On the other side of the bracket is #18 San Diego State v. San Francisco and Ole Miss v. Indiana State. You can view the entire bracket here.
Most people hope and predict to see a Diamond Head Classic Championship matchup between Arizona and San Diego State, but I wouldn’t necessarily predict this as a shoo in scenario. For the Wildcats, Miami is a true threat to knock them out of contention for the championship game and might in fact be the toughest opponent Arizona could face in the entire bracket. The Hurricanes are not ranked, but their 7-1 record makes a strong argument that they should be. Miami has the second highest RPI in the tournament (#11 and second to only Arizona at #9), has beaten three top 50 RPI teams (including then ranked #13 Michigan State) and their only loss comes to a top 50 RPI team. They have the 28th best shooting percentage in the nation. Don’t consider Miami a pushover.
On San Diego State’s side of the bracket, the 9-1 Aztecs are ranked but do not have as strong of an RPI (currently 87) as 8-1 Ole Miss (37). Ole Miss has the 10th best points per game average in the nation and one of the best players in the tournament in Murphy Hollaway (currently averages 15 points and 10 rebounds per game).
In the long run, it might be a better RPI scenario for Arizona to get past Miami for a Championship game against the Ole Miss Rebels. For you Pomeroy fans out there, his algorithm sees that being the best scenario as well.