March 31, 1997: Arizona Basketball knocks off Kentucky to win the NCAA Championship

Lute Olson
Lute Olson / Brian Bahr/GettyImages
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Regular season

By all accounts, it was a relatively underwhelming season compared to what Arizona was used to. The Wildcats were in Year 14 of the Lute Olson era and had only made the Final Four twice in that time. In the non-conference slate, Arizona played five ranked opponents and lost to two of them to enter Pac-10 play with a 7-2 record.

In conference play, Arizona lost seven games and five of them were against unranked opponents. In this time, Arizona never dropped below 15 in the AP Poll but only won against two ranked opponents: No. 21 Stanford in January and No. 21 Tulane in February. In rivalry games, Arizona swept Arizona State but dropped both matchups to UCLA.

The regular season ended on a two-game losing streak where Arizona dropped games to No. 23 Stanford and Cal. When all was said and done, Arizona sat at 19-9 overall and just 11-7 in Pac-10 play, good for fourth place in the conference standings and a No. 15 ranking in the AP Poll entering the NCAA Tournament.