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Cats Going to the Dance
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 15, 2009
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 15, 2009



INDIANAPOLIS--The Arizona men's basketball team has been selected to a 25th consecutive NCAA tournament, continuing the nation's best live streak.

Arizona (19-13), which finished tied for fifth place in the Pac-10 and lost its first-round league tournament game against ASU, will play the Utah Utes (24-9) in Miami, Fla., first-round action of the Midwest Region on Friday, March 27.

The winner of that game will take on the winner of the Wake Forest-Cleveland State game on Sunday. The winner of that game will move on to the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis March 26-27

The Arizona-Utah game is the third at the site, tipping at 7:10 p.m. (EDT).  Earlier games include Syracuse-Stephen F. Austin at 12:15 p.m. (EDT) followed half an hour later by Arizona State-Temple. That pod is in the South Regional. After the Arizona game, Wake Forest and Cleveland State will tip off half an hour later. 

Arizona was selected as the No. 12 seed, its lowest during the streak. The Utes enter the game as the No. 5 seed. The Cats are 7-10 in games as the lower seed. UA is 5-4 in games played as a Midwest region pick.

Interim head coach Russ Pennell follows acting head coach Kevin O'Neill in leading the Cats into NCAA play after Lute Olson built a 23-year streak from 1985 to 2007.

Olson took a leave of absence last season and assistant O'Neill took over, and this year he announced his retirement shortly before the season began, with assistant coach Pennell taking over.

Arizona has played Utah once in previous NCAA action, a West Regional final in Anaheim, Calif., in 1998, with the Utes taking a 76-51 victory and earning their first Final Four appearance.

Arizona is 41-26 in NCAA action and makes its 28th overall appearance. The Cats won the national title in 1997 and have appeared in three other Final Fours -- in 1988, 1994 and 2001.

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