Hail the RPI
The fact that Sean Miller's old boss is the head of the NCAA tournament selection committee this season may or may not make a difference for the Wildcats' placement.
But Arizona's high RPI will, maybe even more after the NCAA took a harder look at the RPI formula, which heavily weighs strength of schedule.
Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski, the committee chair, said in a conference call Wednesday that a notable statistician told the NCAA that the RPI stacked up well in comparison to other rankings after they were analyzed.
"The RPI actually did end up with the highest level of predictive value and the highest correlation with ultimate success in the tournament," Bobinski said. "That doesn't mean we're going to use it more or less this year. It's just a very interesting piece of information."
Arizona's RPI is seven, down from four last week before the Wildcats lost to California.
Former Wildcat guard Daniel Bejarano played only 30 minutes over eight games for the Wildcats in 2010-11 before transferring to Colorado State. But he told the Coloradan of Fort Collins that he was motivated when former UA coach Lute Olson told him he would be playing for the Wildcats if Olson were still coaching.
Bejarano was also critical of UA coach Sean Miller, saying Miller "cares more about money than winning," yelled at his AAU coach and used inappropriate language with his mother.
Miller has declined comment through the UA, and messages left by the Star for Bejarano's mother, Barbara Butler, and his AAU coach, Ray Arvizu, were not returned.
Bejarano is averaging 6.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 22.8 minutes per game this season for the 24th-ranked Rams.
Rocky Mountain high
Other than walk-on forward Max Wiepking, a Denver native, there may not be much concern in the Arizona Wildcats' program this week about making a second Pac-12 trip into altitude this week.
Both UA players made available for media interviews this week, Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson, said they felt no differently while playing at the Coors Events Center last season - even though Johnson struggled with two points and 1-for-5 shooting over 23 minutes.
Hill managed 10 points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes.
"I don't feel like it was an issue," Hill said. "Max kind of says it's a big deal since he's a Nuggets fan, but when you're out there on the court and the only thing you think about is the next possession, you really don't think about the altitude."
One of Utah's key newcomers this season, LSU transfer guard Aaron Dotson, has had a rough start with the Utes.
Dotson, who was playing 17.3 minutes a game for the Utes, was sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot early in the season and has missed the past month with knee issues.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said there's still a chance Dotson could return before the end of the season.
"He's starting to get engaged in some activity," Krystkowiak said. "We'll see how he responds."
Any day, any time
Some Pac-12 coaches expressed more concern this week about the scheduling shift that has teams playing more often on Wednesdays and Sundays, noting that the Sunday games can force a team to take an off day on Monday that results in a shorter preparation for the week ahead. NCAA rules mandate an off day once per week.
Washington's Lorenzo Romar told a Seattle radio station that the conference might tweak the schedule to have a home and a road game in the same week, so as to avoid long travel weekends. But Colorado's Tad Boyle and Arizona's Sean Miller aren't among the complainers.
Miller said "however you slice it" basketball scheduling is difficult.
"You know, college football coaches are a lot smarter than college basketball coaches," Miller said, smiling. "You take a look at their calendar, and they have it pretty well figured out comprehensively."
Basketball coaches "tend to burst at the seams at virtually everything we do, whether it's the recruiting calendar, the immense travel and the fact that we play more games. You get into this time of year, you've been through a lot. And every conference has those trips that are harder than others. Sometimes in the West where we go is a little bit farther, but that's all part of it."
No. 9 Arizona at Colorado, 8 p.m. today, Pac-12 Arizona, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM
He said it …
"They're a very hard-playing man-to-man team. They have (Andre) Roberson, who is one of the best on-ball defenders and is a great help defender. When he's in the game or out makes a huge difference. They're not a great rebounding team, but Roberson is the second-best rebounder in the country (11.6), so they really rely on him to get the ball."
James Whitford, Arizona associate head coach who scouted the Buffaloes
No. 9 Arizona at Utah, 1 p.m. Sunday, Pac-12 Arizona, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM
He said it …
"It's amazing. Every game (Utah plays) is close. They were up at Oregon, and that tells us all we need to know, and they beat Colorado. They get (Jason) Washburn the ball, and (Jordan) Loveridge is very good."
Joe Pasternack, Arizona assistant coach who scouted the Utes