Arizona fans are spoiled. We had a gaudy 25 straight years of NCAA Tournaments. We went from a hall of fame coach to a likely hall of fame coach with a just a mild speed bump compared to how most programs deal with losing one of the greats. It’s gotten to the point that fans expect the commitment of top 10 recruits every year, and view those fringe top 25 kids as role players.
This season will mark the second in a row in which Arizona fans will have realistic National Championship expectations. Obviously that’s a sign of a robust basketball program, but it begs the question: is it fair?
Is it fair to judge an entire season based on how a few games in March or April shake out? Is it fair to eschew 25+ games worth of hard work for what happens in up to six single elimination ones?
No. But that’s the way this game works. College basketball is maybe the most sadistic sport of all, pitting hundreds of teams against one another, whittling them down to just 68, and then letting one devour the rest. It’s like the “tryouts” scene in The Dark Knight, when the Joker cracks a pool cue in half and lets two enemy thugs determine who lives. In this game you don’t just lose, you get stabbed in the heart.
It’s a cruel, cruel ending for all but one team. And when you are a team like Arizona, who is at the forefront of college basketball every season, if you don’t bring the trophy home it was a mission unaccomplished. It comes with the territory.
But with that in mind, try to smell the roses along the way. Sure, Arizona didn’t go as far as they would have liked in last year’s postseason. But it was a pretty magical, record-breaking ride with plenty of thrilling games and rim-rattling dunks. And the 21-0 part was nice too.
So no matter what happens next year, yes it will be a disappointment if the Cats don’t win it all. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying every minute of the journey. Chances are it will be a fun ride.