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And Now, The Anguish Begins

Arizona is sort of a unique program in all of basketballdom. It has a definite big-time sheen now, and there's no question they belong. And they have truly dedicated, passionate fans, and are entirely the darling of Tucson. But that presents a problem as well.

In other states, perhaps only Kentucky or Minnesota has as much a focus on one team. When the Wildcats are hot, it's as fun a place to be as there is. But when things go wrong, as they have lately with the team looking vulnerable, you can't begin to imagine how quickly Tucson becomes a really small town full of gossip and small talk about the program.

The pressure on that basketball team is in many ways unique. If Duke or UNC lose, people generally put it into perspective rather quickly. If Arizona loses, the entire town goes into a funk and life as you know it grinds to a halt.

Now that the #1 ranking is gone, and the team seems uncertain, the pressure is going to escalate rapidly, and it's very difficult to escape from it in Tucson. So unless we miss our guess, the race between redemption and destruction has begun in the Old Pueblo, and if past is prologue, the Wildcats may be doomed.