Ranked Arizona Will Win At Cal In Pac-12 Opener For Both

Willie Bee

Friday, December 30, 2016 2:15 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 2:15 PM UTC

Coach Sean Miller and the No. 18 Arizona Wildcats hit the Pac-12 highway for their conference opener as small underdogs on the NCAA basketball odds against California on Friday night.

We have already seen one minor upset in conference action out in the Pac-12, so might we see another Friday evening when the No. 18 Wildcats head up to Berkeley?

No. 21 Oregon knocked off No. 2 UCLA in a thriller on Wednesday  night, technically an upset though the Ducks were only 1½-point underdogs, ranked themselves and playing at home, where they rarely lose. Friday's tilt at Haas Pavilion, set to tip a little past 11 p.m. ET with ESPN2's cameras having the honors, wouldn't really fit the definition of an upset according to the wagering particulars, but would be one looking at the rankings.

The battle was sent out as a pick 'em at BetOnline before market corrections led to Cal being a 1½-point favorite. Your scoreboard tally for each team's conference opener is 129.


When Will 'Cats Lift Trier's Suspension?

Since falling to Gonzaga in L.A. to open December, Arizona (11-2 straight up, 7-6 against the spread) has reeled off 5 straight victories with four covers in that span. The most impressive in that stretch came about two weeks ago in Houston where the Wildcats were getting 3 points on the NCAA basketball odds against Texas A&M and came away with a 67-63 decision. Miller still hasn't announced when Allonzo Trier will return to action, the sophomore guard reportedly cleared of his eligibility problems earlier this month but still yet to suit up.

This will be the second straight ranked opponent for California (9-3 SU, 4-8 ATS), and the slate won't get any easier next week when Cuonzo Martin's outfit travels to Los Angeles to go up against UCLA and USC. The Golden Bears have been idle since dropping a 56-52 decision at home to No. 12 Virginia on Dec. 21, the defensive struggle ending with Cal backers falling short on a +2½ line. Getting Jabari Bird back from an early back injury has helped the Bears, but they're still in the second half of the country in scoring (70.8) and three-point shooting (33.2%).


'Over' Has Been Strongest Trend In Recent Matchups

Arizona has a commanding 60-31 advantage in the rivalry, but the Wildcats and Bears split their two meetings a year ago by each earning home-court dubyas. California posted a 74-73 win in January thanks to a late free throw by Jaylen Brown (now with Celtics), the Golden Bears getting 2 at the closing bell in that matchup. Arizona got even with a 64-61 decision in Tucson, the 'Cats taking the lead in the waning seconds but failing to cover a -7 line. The contest at Cal went 'over' the total, the 10th time in the last 14 meetings at Haas that has happened with 'over' wagers ending in payoffs 21 of the last 30 overall clashes.

I'm just not all that impressed with Cal's resume so far, the only two games the Bears really excelled in coming against Cal Davis and Cal Poly a couple of weeks back. So my NCAA basketball pick will be to back the visiting Wildcats. Season record: 17-17-1 (-1.70).

NCAAB Free Pick: Arizona +1.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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