Welcome back to the Arizona Wildcats Sweet 17 tournament, where we take the 17 best basketball teams in school history and put them into a bracket (to fill the offseason, essentially).
Last week, we looked at the second-round game between the 2003 team that spent a lot of the season at #1 in the Associated Press poll and the 1991 squad that spent the entire season in the Top 10 in winning a tougher Pac-10. Nonetheless, the 2003 Arizona Wildcats had a massive amount of talent and possibly the best, starting lineup in school history. The 2003 Cats advanced easily.
This week, we’re looking at an interesting matchup between the #2 1998 team, Arizona’s followup to its national championship, versus the #15 2002 Wildcats, which followed Arizona’s only other run to the title game.
#2 1998 Arizona Wildcats vs. #15 2002 Arizona Wildcats
1998 Profile: 30-5 (17-1, 1st in Pac-10); NCAA Tournament #1 seed, lost to Utah in Elite 8 76-51
Starters: Mike Bibby (SO), Miles Simon (SR), Michael Dickerson (SR), AJ Bramlett (JR), Bennett Davison (SR)
Key Bench: Jason Terry (JR), Eugene Edgerson (SO), Donnell Harris (JR)
2002 Profile: 24-10 (12-6, 2nd in Pac-10, won Pac-10 tournament); NCAA Tournament #3 seed, lost to Oklahoma in Sweet 16 88-67
Starters: Jason Gardner (JR), Luke Walton (JR), Salim Stoudamire (FR), Rick Anderson (JR), Channing Frye (FR)
Key Bench: Will Bynum (FR), Isaiah Fox (FR), Dennis Latimore (FR)
Interestingly, the 2002 squad has the same starting lineup as the 2003 team that looked unbeatable last week. The difference was that everyone was a year younger and a year less wise. That said, Jason Gardner’s junior year was one of the best individual seasons in school history. He was a warrior on a team that saw a ridiculous amount of NBA talent leave after the 2001 title game.
The 1998 team was something special, as we watched all our heroes from the season before run through a regular season, earn a #1 seed, and then get beat down by Rick Majerus’s crazy zone, breaking the heart of every Arizona Wildcats fan expecting back-to-back Final Four trips.
So take a look, and vote for who you think would win if these two amazing Arizona Wildcats teams played each other! On Monday, we’ll post your results along with our own analysis, and you’ll find out who won!
Who would win in a game between the 1998 and 2002 teams?
- #15 2002 (16%, 3 Votes)
- #2 1998 (84%, 16 Votes)
Total Voters: 19