Arizona showed why it was deserving of landing one of the four No. 1 seeds in this event last time out, as it picked up a 84-61 victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs as 7.5-point favorites, while going OVER the betting total for a third consecutive contest.
The Wildcats are making their third Sweet 16 appearance in the last four years—led by the play of Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year Nick Johnson.
Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 71-17 SU and 46-42 ATS as a favorite.
Capable of making noise
San Diego State is capable of winning the region at a nice price in the futures market, considering it advanced past New Mexico State and North Dakota State as eight and four-point favorites respectively.
The Aztecs have compiled a 10-2 SU record in their last 12 games versus Pac-12 opponents when playing in the Golden State, but they did drop a 69-60 decision to the Wildcats as three-point home underdogs on Nov. 14.
It’s important to point out that the squad is 2-1 ATS when revenging a loss at Viejas Arena since the start of the 2011-12 campaign.
Defense and rebounding
The Wildcats rank fifth nationally in surrendering just 58.2 points per game, which has been helped by limiting opponents to 40.1 percent shooting inside the arc—a statistic that can’t be ignored in this spot with the Aztecs being offensively challenged at times.
College basketball handicappers will also find that Arizona sits behind just five teams in rebounding margin, as it has grabbed more boards than its opponent in 26 of 36 games this season.
Johnson is going to receive most of the national media’s attention due to playing in a major conference, but Aztecs point guard Xavier Thames is the most important player to handicap in this matchup.
The Mountain West Conference Player of the Year is averaging 26.5 points in the Big Dance, and has led the team in scoring 24 times this season.
I’ve developed a handicapper line favoring the Wildcats by 6.5 points, which offers no value at the current numbers being offered, but things may change when the normal betting public enters the marketplace later in the week.
Sports bettors should back Arizona if the number falls to 6 or lower, while San Diego State is worthy of receiving action at 7 or higher.
Handicapper Line: Arizona Wildcats -6.5