NCAA Basketball Picks: Arizona Will Easily Cover Against Washington State

Doug Upstone

Saturday, January 16, 2016 5:27 PM GMT

Rumors of Arizona's demise were unfounded as they rolled Washington 99-67 to easily cover the -14 points for their backers who placed NCAA basketball picks Thursday. Check our pick for tonight!

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Arizona -18
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

This was the Wildcats first Pac-12 home game and coming off road losses to UCLA and USC, you did not have to be a physic to figure out coach Sean Miller's squad might be a little prickly, even without leading scorer Allonzo Trier, who is out a month with a broken hand.

With the Pac-12's unique situation of playing regional two-packs of games, Washington State will invade the McKale Center at 9:30 EST. The Cougars expect to have their hands full trying to slow down the Wildcats.

 

Washington State Will Need Strong Showing Just to Cover
The Cougars (9-7, 8-7 ATS) are tied for last place in the conference at 1-3 (same spread record) and seeing Utah and Arizona State are there basement mates, they might be alone real soon. Washington State is coached by Ernie Kent, who has his second gig in this conference after being the head man at Oregon for a many years.

The Cougars are led by junior forward Josh Hawkinson, who averages 17.1 points a game and is a board monster at 11.4 rebounds a contest. Last year the 6'10 big man had 20 double-doubles and is well on his way to surpassing that figure with 13 already, including 11 in a row.

Fellow junior Ike Iroegbu is Kent's seconding leading scorer at 14.3 PPG and he hands out 4.3 assists. After that Washington State production drops off rather quickly to largely role players and inconsistent freshmen. Offensively, the Cougars are stable, shooting 48.9 percent from the field and 38.2 beyond the arc, but could have real problems keeping pace with the Wildcats.

 

Arizona Always Tough to Beat in Tucson
Arizona (14-3, 9-8 ATS) opened with three conference road games and with the SoCal teams much improved, the Wildcats had a few too long scoring droughts or defensive lapses, to knock either off on the road. Back home, the 'Cats got cookin' over the Huskies and coach Sean Miller will expect similar effort and focus, wanting to have club adjust properly without their leading scorer.

Arizona still has ample firepower with the likes of transfer F Ryan Anderson (14.8 PPG, 10.4 rebounds), G Gabe York (13.7 PPG) and center Kaleb Tarczewski (10.6 PPG, 8.7 boards), who has only played in nine of the team's 17 games.

Though Miller's teams can put together highlight reels on offense, he's a defense-first coach and with the injuries and new players, there has been a lack of cohesiveness on one side of the floor. In their three losses, Providence shot 50%, UCLA 51.6% and USC torched them for 64% in the first half before they buckled down to tie the game, but never got the key stop in the four OT's which would have resulted in victory. This contest is about building the defensive structure.

 

What Bettors Need to Know
Arizona has 48-game winning streak at the McKale Center, having picked up 10 this season (6-4 ATS), winning by enormous 24.2 PPG. The Wildcats are 7-1 and 5-3 ATS off a win and spread cover and the NCAA basketball odds opened with them as 16.5 point favorites.

The 88-73 loss at Arizona State two nights ago was the just Washington State's second true away game and they are winless SU and ATS in both. The Cougs are 4-2 and 5-1 ATS after a defeat and do have covers versus quality clubs like UCLA and Gonzaga this season.

 

What to Expect and Spread Winner
Arizona knows Hawkinson will get his points and rebounds and will instead focus on the rest of the Washington State players and look to stifle their contributions.

The Cougars will feed their big man with the intent to have him pick up fouls and if they can get Anderson and Tarczewski sitting on the bench, this becomes a single digit contest.

For NCAA basketball picks, the Wildcats are on an 8-0 SU and ATS run and this series has been all about the victor, who is incredible 16-0 SU and ATS since 2007. Hard to buck that trend.