NCAA Basketball Picks: Stanford vs. Arizona -11

Willie Bee

Sunday, March 2, 2014 6:21 PM UTC

Sunday, Mar. 2, 2014 6:21 PM UTC

This past week has taken care of the question as to if the Arizona Wildcats would be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament. Now it's only a matter of when they'll make it official.

Arizona can end that discussion Sunday evening in Tucson where they'll host the Stanford Cardinal. A victory would lock up the regular season crown for the Wildcats in an 8 PM (ET) tip at McKale Center.

The NCAA basketball betting options for this contest include a -11 line on the Wildcats with 133.5 for the total.

Sunday's clash is a rematch from late-January when the Wildcats won their eighth straight in the series, 60-57. That triumph gave Arizona a school-record 21 straight wins, but it wasn't enough to cover the closing 5.5 point spread as Stanford backers picked up the cash for the second straight time in the series.

Arizona has a commanding 56-29 advantage vs. the Cardinal over the years, and four of the last six meetings fell short of the total.

Cardinal In 5-Team Dogfight For 2nd Place

Coming off a loss up the road in Tempe on Wednesday, Stanford (18-9 straight up, 16-8-1 against the spread) missed a golden opportunity to remain in the lead for the runner-up slot in the conference tourney. As it is, Johnny Dawkins' outfit is a game behind UCLA for second place in the Pac-12, with Arizona State between those two.

The Cardinal trailed Arizona State the entire game, watching an immediate 8-0 deficit swell to a 15-point disadvantage in the first half. Stanford's 3-game win streak came to an end primarily on the defensive end of the floor where the Sun Devils enjoyed one of their best overall performances of the season, hitting better than 50% from the field and beyond the arc in a single contest for the first time since Nov. 12.

This is the fourth time on the schedule for the Cardinal to make a quick 2-game roadie in another part of California or two locales within some other state, and they've split the previous three trips like that, and Stanford is 3-1 vs. ranked teams this season. If those trends continue, the Cardinal are due a win on Sunday.

Problem is, Stanford has dropped its last four matchups in Tucson, the most recent win on Arizona's floor a little more than six years ago. And that lone loss to a ranked team this year came to these Wildcats who have had the Cardinal's number lately.

Final Home Game For 'Zona

Arizona (26-2 SU, 17-10 ATS) seems to have rediscovered its mojo the past couple of games, picking up relatively easy victories on the road in Colorado and at home vs. California. The 87-59 victory Wednesday vs. the Golden Bears helped Sean Miller's squad avenge their first of two losses this season, extending both the win streak and string of covers to three games.

A key to the last two triumphs has been an improved offense. The Wildcats struggled to put points on the board when forward Brandon Ashley first went down in the initial matchup with California, but scored 80+ points in consecutive games for the first time this season in the wins over the Buffaloes and Bears.

This is the final home game for the Wildcats before they close the regular season next week at Oregon State and Oregon. With only one senior to bid adios, Jordin Mayes, the focus shouldn't be on that and instead on finishing the campaign a perfect 18-0 in Tucson to extend the home-court streak to 21 games. I'm going to be making my free NCAA basketball pick on the Wildcats to go out with both a win and a cover.

My pick: Arizona -11

Season: 45-35-4 (+6.5)


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