West No. 2 Arizona Giving too Many Points to No. 15 North Dakota

Jason Lake

Monday, March 13, 2017 3:45 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 13, 2017 3:45 PM UTC

After an impressive display at the Pac-12 Tournament, the second-seeded Arizona Wildcats might be too big of a favorite to be the right NCAAB pick vs. the No. 15 North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 15 North Dakota

West Region, Thursday, Salt Lake City, 9:50 p.m. ET


So the Arizona Wildcats (30-4 SU, 18-14-2 ATS) ended up winning the Pac-12 Tournament. Well done; they swept all three of their games SU and ATS, and upset both the UCLA Bruins (-2.5) and the Oregon Ducks (-1.5) in the process. That earned Arizona the No. 2 seed in the West Region and a March Madness date Thursday against the No. 15 North Dakota Fighting Hawks (22-9 SU, 17-9-2 ATS).

Yes, we’re thinking Hawks here for your college basketball picks. Their ATS record is impressive, but more importantly Arizona is a 16.5-point favorite at press time. That seems to be pushing the envelope a little. North Dakota won the Big Sky title, after all. Anyone? Big Sky Conference? Bueller?

Fighting Spirit

All right, so the Big Sky is among the lowest of the low majors. Let’s use some efficiency stats to see if North Dakota’s weak schedule is too weak for these NCAAB odds. Ken Pomeroy has Arizona at No. 20 overall (No. 20 offense, No. 28 defense) on his charts and +22.74 in adjusted efficiency margin. Look down, way down, and you’ll find the Hawks at No. 173 overall (No. 200 offense, No. 149 defense) and -0.32 points.

Selection committee chair says #arizonawildcats were "another team that moved up considerably as the week went on."

— Bruce Pascoe (@BrucePascoe) March 12, 2017

And now, some math. Call it 23 points difference between the two teams over 100 possessions and give each team 68 possessions for Thursday’s game ... that’s around 15.5 points. Score one for the stat nerds. As for the matchup itself, North Dakota’s lightning-quick offense could end up going off the rails, but we like its chances of getting inside against an overvalued Wildcats team and scoring enough points to cover.

NCAAB Free Pick: North Dakota +16.5 (-120)Best Line Offered: WagerWeb

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