Will Arizona get caught looking ahead to Utah when the Wildcats face Colorado on Thursday? Check out our preview and free college basketball pick for this Pac-12 clash.
It is the road which has been most unkind to Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats this season. All three losses have come in hostile gyms, and unfortunately, they have to take a tough 2-game trip away from Tucson the next few days before wrapping up the Pac-12 slate at home next week.
First stop for the Wildcats will be Thursday evening to face the Colorado Buffaloes, a team that hasn't lived up to expectations but is always a threat on their home court. Making the game in Boulder even more dangerous is the big contest looming in Utah against the Utes on Saturday.
Arizona is 10-10½ point chalk on the NCAA basketball odds in the 9 PM (ET) game which can be seen on ESPN. A total should be out later this morning.
'Cats Put 5-Game Series Win Streak On Line
This rivalry has really just started to build since the Buffaloes jumped west from the Big 12 a few years back, 10 of the 23 games in the series played since the schools became conference foes in 2012. Three of those were in the last three Pac-12 Tournaments, including the 2012 Championship Game won by CU.
Arizona has won the last five and seven of 10 as league opponents to inch just ahead of Colorado all-time, 12-11. The home team is 6-1 in Pac-12 play and they've split the past six vs. the NCAA odds with the totals running 2-4 O/U in that stretch.
The Wildcats picked up their 5th-straight triumph over the Buffaloes with a 68-54 decision in Tucson on January 15 of this year. Stanley Johnson led the way for Miller's side with 22 points, but it wasn't enough to cover a closing -16 spread in a contest that just fell short of a 125 point total.
'Zona Coming Off Poor Offensive Showing Vs. UCLA
Arizona (24-3 straight up, 16-11 against the spread) is consistent as far as the rankings go, if nothing else. The Wildcats rank 7th in the latest AP and coaches polls, also sit No. 7 on the updated RPI, plus are 5th in the BPI and 3rd according to Ken Pomeroy.
Since beating Colorado earlier this season, the Wildcats have won nine of 10, the last four in a row. With the exception of the upset loss at rival Arizona State a few weeks ago, the defense has been solid all year, No. 2 in the Pac-12 allowing 57.3 PPG and holding seven of the last eight opponents to 62 or fewer.
The offense, meanwhile, has struggled at times, as in last Saturday's 57-47 win over UCLA. It was reminiscent of both Arizona games against Oregon State, the Beavers holding the Wildcats about 18 below their season average on each occasion, and exposed a lack of depth on offense when both Johnson and Brandon Ashley suffer off-nights.
Buffs In Shooting Funk As Wildcats Arrive
Hard to believe now that Colorado (12-14 SU, 11-13-2 ATS) was fourth on the NCAA futures odds to win the Pac-12 at 5/1 when the season started. The Buffaloes lumbered through a 7-5 non-con schedule before seeming to catch their second win with wins over UCLA and USC to open the league fixture.
Nine losses in the 12 games since followed, and if beating Arizona wasn't already tough enough, the Buffaloes are going to have to come out of a shooting slump against this tough Wildcat defense. Colorado is last in the conference shooting barely 40% from the field, and haven't topped 36.7% in the last six games.
Arizona is just 2-7 in Boulder over the years, and though a Buffalo outright upset seems a bit far-fetched, I'm still tagging along with the home team plus the points for my college basketball picks.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Colorado +10½ at 5Dimes