Jon Rothstein: ‘Door Is Open’ For Arizona To Make Final Four

CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein dropped by CBS Sports Radio to preview the NCAA Tournament.

We’ll start with Arizona (30-4), which received one of the friendliest draws in the tournament. In fact, the Wildcats may have received their friendliest draw in years.

 

“This is the best draw that Sean Miller has ever gotten to go to a Final Four,” Rothstein said on Tiki and Tierney. “You look right now at this region. Florida State is unproven as a 3. Notre Dame obviously is good, but it’s not a Notre Dame team with (Jerian) Grant and (Pat) Connaughton. Gonzaga is obviously unproven as a 1, so the door is obviously open for Arizona to get to a Final Four.”

Arizona reached the Elite Eight in 2014 and 2015, ultimately losing to Wisconsin both times. Miller also reached the Elite Eight in 20011 with Arizona and in 2008 with Xavier.

“It’s the elephant in the room, and he’ll be the first one to acknowledge it,” Rothstein said. “He is the best coach in college basketball not to coach in a Final Four.”

Bill Self, meanwhile, is looking for his third Final Four – and his first since 2012. Rothstein, however, doesn’t think Kansas will get there. In fact, he doesn’t think the Jayhawks will come close.

“Kansas, I know, is seeded No. 1,” he said. “I know that Kansas, if it plays in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, will play in Kansas City, which is obviously a big thing. But I have not really been enamored with Kansas this year compared to past teams under Bill Self because they don’t have vintage Bill Self size. They don’t have the post play and the post depth that Kansas teams have had in years past.”

 

Rothstein has No. 8 Miami (21-11) beating No. 1 Kansas (28-4) in the Round of 32.

“When you’re looking at this Kansas team, you’re looking at a team that is seeded high, that has pedigree, but it doesn’t have the interior defense,” Rothstein said. “I think there’s a matchup right there (against a coach) that has won big in the tournament, Jim Larranaga, that is looming for the Jayhawks.”

As for the opening round, Rothstein is salivating over a matchup featuring two of the top mid-majors in America. No. 7 Dayton (24-7) plays No. 10 Wichita State (30-4) on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. The Shockers would love to win and, in all likelihood, get a rematch with No. 2 Kentucky, which beat Wichita State in the Round of 32 in 2014.

Rothstein’s advice for Gregg Marshall? One step at a time.

“Wichita State cannot overlook Dayton in the Round of 64,” Rothstein said. “That’s one of the best games in the Round of 64. These two programs, since 2014, have won a combined 10 NCAA Tournament games. That’s how much success Wichita State and Dayton have had in the NCAA Tournament.  Wichita State, since 2013, has won multiple games in the NCAA Tournament every year but one. The one year was 2014. What happened that year? They entered the tournament undefeated, were a 1-seed and wound up losing to Kentucky in the Round of 32. The X-factor in this game? Shaq Morris, the space-eater inside for Wichita State. I’m not sure Dayton has an answer.”

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