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Facing Uncertain Future, Wildcats Bow Out Early In NCAA Tourney

The University of Arizona’s men’s basketball team is out of the NCAA Tournament, victims of one of the biggest upsets so far of the tourney.

The shocking loss ends a tumultuous season for the program now facing an ominous future.

The Wildcats entered their South Regional first round game as a 4-seed, but were blown out by 13-seed Buffalo by 89-68 Thursday night in Boise, representing the largest surprise of the day. The Pac-12 champs are out as is the rest of their conference from the tournament field.

But the U of A’s program remains under a cloud of controversy. There’s an FBI fraud investigation into former assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson. And head coach Sean Miller is still trying to fend off charges made in a disputed ESPN report that had him offering a bribe to lure star player DeAndre Ayton. Miller’s future is unclear.

Immediately after the game, Ayton — a 7'1" freshman center who played his high school ball at Phoenix's Hillcrest Prop — and junior guard Allonzo Trier, announced they were leaving early to go pro. They represented the team's two leading scorers. The Wildcats' third leading scorer, Rawle Alkins, is expected to announce his intention to leave early as well.

The Wildcats do not have a single recruit committed for next season and have only six returning players on next season's roster.

Phil Latzman is an award-winning digital journalist and broadcast professional with over 25 years of experience covering news and sports on a multitude of platforms.