The NBA has the next few nights off to celebrate their annual All Star festivities, so college hoops takes center stage for a while. I’ll have an All-Star breakdown up early so we can also kick around a few interesting prop bets for the Dunk Contest and the much-ballyhooed Three Point Shootout, which has the makings of an epic even this year.
In the meantime, it’s a typically light Friday late of hoops, but there are a ton big time games Saturday so enjoy the calm before the storm, and take advantage of a chance to watch one of the more intriguing potential challengers to Kentucky, another group of Wildcats, from Arizona.
Today’s Free Pick:
Arizona Wildcats -11 at Washington Huskies
Arizona is an interesting team. They have one of the three or four most talented rosters in the country. They have a gaudy record, athletic bigs, NBA-prototype swingmen and a veteran savvy point guard. It seems like the perfect recipe to finally get Sean Miller to a Final Four. Yet they are also the only team ranked in the Top 15 that has three losses outside the RPI Top 75. It’s perplexing to say the least.
Meanwhile, remember when Washington got upset by Stony Brook right after Christmas to knock them from the perch of one of the last unbeaten teams in the country (TCU was on there as well, so…). Um, yeah. So that might not have been an upset after all. The Huskies are just 3-8 in Pac-12 play and have lost five straight games, going 1-4 ATS in the process. It’s a mess in Washington and NCAA expectations have turned into CIT longshot dreams in the span of a month.
The Huskies played well narrowly losing at Oregon and gave Cal a good effort at home, but their other three losses were blowouts and none of the teams inflicting the pain are even close to as good as Arizona. Washington’s biggest problem is that they can’t guard anyone. They are allowing opponents to shoot 54.5% over their last five conference games. Meanwhile, they are shooting just 29% from behind the arc. That’s how you amass a -10.4ppg overall differential and plummet to the bottom of the league standings.
Arizona is still a good sleeper to win the title, and when they bring their best effort, they are awesome. They own wins over Gonzaga and have beaten the brakes off of Utah, Stanford, Kansas State and nearly every other quality foe. They are fresh off the ridiculous wake-up call loss at Arizona State so I doubt they’ll be caught napping again following six days of Sean Miller cracking the whip. Expect a fiery, determined and focused Arizona team, and expect them to dispatch the Huskies with relative ease.