Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Grab Utah To Cover ATS Against Arizona

Mark Lathrop

Saturday, February 27, 2016 4:54 PM GMT

Our handicapper analyzes a great matchup in the Pac 12 Conference as the ranked Arizona Wildcats visit the Utah Utes in this Saturday afternoon game. Get our NCAAB pick.

Arizona vs. Utah
In a very competitive Pac 12 conference, the 9th ranked Arizona Wildcats (22-6,10-5) look for a rare road win at the 22nd ranked Utah Utes (22-7, 11-5) on Saturday afternoon in a game that can be seen on ESPN. Heritage has the early line open for this game, with Utah being placed as a 2.5-point home favorite. This is not too shocking as Utah has been nearly impossible to beat at home this year boasting a 14-1 SU home record this season. Although that is the case, Utah’s 6-6 against NCAA Basketball odds record at home this year leaves a bit to be desired for blind backers of the Utes.

 

Utah Utes
Utah is coming off of five wins in a row and an absolute destruction of Arizona State on Thursday, 88-46. In that game, they led by as much as 45 points and led 44-10 at halftime. While Arizona State made an effort to stop Utah’s Austrian star center, 7’ sophomore Jakob Poeltl; all they did in response was make 16 3-pointers from the perimeter to put the game away early. It was a decent strategy in theory, as Poeltl leads the Utes in points and rebounds per game with averages of 17.7 and 8.9, respectively.

 

Arizona Wildcats
How Arizona matches up with Poeltl wil be very interesting to watch. Last year as a freshman, Poeltl only played 12 minutes in Utah’s 63-57 loss to the Wildcats. Poeltl only scored 4 points and had an efficient 5 rebounds in his limited time, but was the only player to foul out of the game. The game was called well in favor of Arizona who took advantage by getting to the free throw line an amazing 37 times, converting 27 attempts. That fact was certainly a reason that Arizona won the game, as they only shot 33.3% from the floor otherwise and and abysmal 2-12 from 3-point range.

Arizona saw the top spot in the Pac 12 conference evaporate after their last game, a 75-72 loss to Colorado as a 5.5-point road favorite. Colorado is no slouch this year so it’s not exactly a huge upset, but Arizona found a way to lose after still shooting pretty well from the floor. The Wildcats outshot Colorado 46.8% to 41.5% from field goal range in the game, and basically were in a dead heat in most other statistical categories. It just goes to show how hard it is to win in the Pac 12 on the road this year, as Arizona is 5-4 SU and ATS away from their home court on the season.

Arizona is paced by senior forward, Ryan Anderson, who is a transfer from Boston College. Anderson averages a team leading 16 points and 10.2 rebounds per year for the Wildcats after sitting out most of last year. His 14 double-doubles on the season almost certainly leads the team as well and he shoots a fantastic 57.1% from the floor over the year. In comparison, Jakob Poeltl converts at an average of 66.7% from the field for Utah.

 

Betting Preview
When looking at the stars of each team and the overall statistics, we find a very even matchup between Arizona and Utah. There are no ATS trends to suggest a lean as well, as Arizona is 6-6 ATS on the road to match Utah’s 6-6 ATS at home. I’m siding with the home team in this game and the one with the better defense as my tiebreaker. I like the skinny 2.5-point spread as well in what is essentially a pick’em game. Expect squares to pound the higher ranked Arizona team up into tip-off, which could tighten up the line even more. As is, I’m comfortable taking Utah at -2.5-points at Heritage as my NCAA Basketball Pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Utah -3.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle