No. 14 Arizona on Upset Alert in Trip to Pac-12 Rival Utah?

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 8:29 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 8:29 PM UTC

A handful of ranked teams are in action around NCAA basketball on Thursday, but the one with the toughest challenge likely is No. 14 Arizona visiting a very good Utah team.

No. 14 Arizona Wildcats at Utah Utes (+4.5)Free NCAAB Pick: Utah +4.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Tip-off for this Pac-12 showdown is at 9 p.m. ET from Salt Lake City and on ESPN. The Utes will visit Arizona on Jan. 27. The schools don’t always play twice a regular season. They faced off just once last year and Utah lost at Arizona, 66-56 almost a year to the day. The Cats dominated on the boards and got the Utes into some foul trouble. Neither team even hit 30 percent from 3-point range. It was Utah’s seventh straight loss at McKale Center.

Arizona leads the all-time series 31-29 and is 10-1 since Utah joined the Pac-12. The Utes did win the last time they played at the Huntsman Center, 70-64 on Feb. 27, 2016, when Arizona was ranked No. 9. It snapped UA's streak of six consecutive wins in the building dating to 1993. Utah is 20-10 all-time when facing the Wildcats at home.

The home team is 3-1-1 ATS in the past five meetings.

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Hey @TheMUSS we need YOU‼️

👉🏼Thursday, Jan 4th - 7pm

🔴🔴🔴WEAR RED🔴🔴🔴#GoUtes pic.twitter.com/JAJ6D8pBNS

— Utah Basketball (@UtahMBB) January 1, 2018
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5-Star Freshman Ayton Living Up To Hype

The Wildcats (11-3 SU, 5-7-2 ATS) opened the season as the No. 3 team in the country but then lost to NC State, SMU and Purdue on consecutive days at a Thanksgiving tournament in the Bahamas. It was Arizona’s first three-game skid since February 2010, Coach Sean Miller’s first season in Tucson.

Arizona has gotten to full strength since then and hasn’t lost, which includes a close win over then-No. 7 Texas A&M in early December and a home victory over then-No. 3 Arizona State on Saturday, 84-78, to open Pac-12 play. In that one, 7-foot-1 Bahaman freshman center Deandre Ayton showed why he could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft with 23 points, 19 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

It was Ayton’s 10th double-double of the season already and his rebounding total was the most for an Arizona player since Bob Elliott had 19 during the 1973-74 season. Ayton was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second time this season and is averaging 19.7 points and 11.9 rebounds. He’s an absolute monster. Ayton isn’t even the team’s leading scorer – that’s Allonzo Trier, whose 21.3 points are second in the Pac-12. The Cats have really taken off since sophomore guard Rawle Alkins made his season debut on Dec. 9 off a broken foot. He’s averaging 14.2 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Utah (10-3 SU, 7-4 ATS) gets its first look at a ranked team this year but has played some quality opponents like Missouri (won), UNLV (lost), Butler (lost), BYU (lost) and Oregon (won). Last weekend, the Utes swept their trip through Oregon, winning 66-56 at the Ducks (school’s first win in Eugene since 1951) and then 66-64 at Oregon State. Utah had just three total turnovers at Oregon, the fewest ever under coach Larry Krystkowiak.

The Utes are led by point guard Justin Bibbins, a graduate transfer from Long Beach State. He’s averaging 13.1 points, 4.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds. Utah is 6-0 at home this year (4-1 ATS) and leads the Pac-12 in scoring defense overall at 66.7 ppg. Arizona is No. 2 in scoring at 83.5 ppg and No. 1 in shooting (51.5 percent).

Salt Lake City is a tough place to play and UA might be due a letdown. Utes cover on the NCAAB picks at worst, might win outright.

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