Arizona doesn't just win games, it covers spreads, too, going 22-12 ATS on the season. The Wildcats are favored by another big number for their match-up with Texas Southern.
Wildcats-Tigers Betting Odds
Most of the NCAA Tournament odds market opened this game with Arizona favored by 23 points; that spread inched up to -23.5 in the early betting.
According to Sagarin's PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com the Wildcats should be favored by 25 points for this game.
Those who believe the basketball gods might take an active interest in this game could bet Texas Southern getting +4760 on the moneyline at Heritage. But that's still probably not enough.
Arizona began this season as the favorite to win the Pac-12, and that's just what the Wildcats did. They then knocked off Cal, UCLA and Oregon to win the Pac-12 tournament. So the Wildcats are Dancing for the third season in a row.
Arizona has won 11 games in a row, going 9-2 ATS, covering some big numbers in the process. The 'Cats recently covered at -16 over Washington State, -24 over USC, -19 over Cal, -15 over Stanford, -17 over Cal in the conference tournament and -13 over the Ducks in the championship game.
In fact, Oregon was the second-best team in the Pac-12 this season; Arizona beat the Ducks three times, by 18, 34 and 38 points.
On the season the Wildcats are 10-0 SU, 6-4 ATS against teams that made the NCAA tournament.
Coming into this season Texas Southern had to replace almost its entire starting lineup from a team that made the NCAA tournament last season. At best, the Tigers appeared headed for a middle-of-the-pack finish in the SWAC. Instead, TSU won the conference regular-season title, going 16-2 in conference play, then won the conference tournament. So big kudos go out to head coach Mike Davis, the former Hoosier.
Texas Southern also begins this NCAA tournament riding an 11-game winning streak, after disposing of Alcorn State, Prairie View A&M and Southern in the SWAC tournament.
TSU, we were surprised to find, has played seven games this season against teams that made the NCAA tournament. The Tigers lost to Big Sky dual champion Eastern Washington, Indiana, AAC dual champion SMU, Baylor, WCC dual champion Gonzaga and New Mexico State, and upset Michigan State in East Lansing back in December, winning that game outright as 24-point dogs.
They lost those other six games by an average of 21 points per, but if they stay within 21 points of Arizona Thursday, they'll cash.
Texas Southern averaged 56 points in those seven games against tournament qualifiers, 12 below its season average.
Last year the Tigers finished second in the SWAC, then won the conference tournament, before losing to Cal-Poly in one of those NCAA tournament “first-round” games 81-69.
Wildcats-Tigers Key Stats
Arizona is shooting 49 percent from the floor this season, which ranks in the top five in the country, while holding opponents to 39 percent shooting, which ranks in the top 30.
Texas Southern is shooting 44 percent, and allowing opponents to shoot 44 percent.
Arizona is 4-2 ATS this season when favored by 20 points or more.
TSU games are averaging 136 points this season; the Tigers have only played 10 lined games, with six of those playing UNDER.
Arizona is 19-15 on the UNDERS this season, as Wildcats games have averaged 135 points.
Wildcats-Tigers Free Pick
Arizona has absolutely destroyed several opponents this season, and as long as it doesn't take its foot off the gas too soon it should do something similar Thursday. We'll take the 'Cats as our NCAA tournament pick and give the points.
Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Arizona -23.5 at 5Dimes