The Arizona Wildcats were the number one team in the country until this week. Arizona finally slipped up when California edged them at the buzzer last weekend. The Wildcats only fell to number two though, and they are a legitimate national title contender. Oregon was one of the favorites in the Pac-12 a few weeks ago, but they have really hit the skids. Can they recover?
Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona Wildcats Free Pick & Preview
College Basketball Betting Odds from BetOnline
College Basketball Betting Favorite: Arizona -11.5
Dana Altman’s Oregon Ducks surprised a bunch of people in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Oregon was a #12 seed, but they got to the Sweet 16. Last year’s team did it with quick play and lots of high quality defense in the paint. Most assumed this year’s squad would do a lot of the same. Oregon is running the floor again this year, but they aren’t playing any defense. The Ducks no longer have a great post defender like they had last year with Kazemi. Oregon is giving up 75.2 points per game, which ranks 298th in Division I. That kind of defense just won’t get the job done.
Oregon can still put up the points because of their speed, but this team has been more inefficient of late. After scoring in the 90’s and 100’s several times in the non-conference slate, the Ducks offense has had trouble getting out of the upper 60’s and 70’s of late. Joseph Young is the team’s leading scorer, and when he struggles this offense isn’t the same. Oregon is going to need some big production out of Mike Moser as well. Moser is the team’s only real scorer in the frontcourt. This is a very guard oriented team.
The Arizona Wildcats looked like the front runner to cut down the nets a week ago, but things have changed a bit in the last few days. Though the Wildcats did lose a game last weekend, their most important loss was the injury of forward Brandon Ashley. Ashley is out for the season with a foot injury. He was averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 boards per game for the Wildcats. What does his absence mean for Arizona? It means that the Wildcats are going to have to lean on Aaron Gordon a lot more at the forward spot. Gordon is a sensational freshman, but he has benefited from having Ashley lined up next to him. It’s time for Gordon to prove how great he is in the coming weeks.
Arizona’s amazing success so far this year is spearheaded by their terrific defense. This Wildcats team makes life really difficult for opponents’ offenses. The Wildcats are allowing opponents to shoot just 37.6 percent from the floor this year. Offensively, there are several guys who can beat you at any time. Arizona has a ton of weapons, and with their defense they’ll be a very tough out in the Big Dance.
Free College Basketball Pick: Oregon +11.5
Arizona wasn’t blowing teams out at home even before Ashley’s injury (see their non-covers against Colorado and Utah). Without Ashley, it should take the Wildcats a little time to get accustomed to the new lineup. Oregon has plenty of talent and should keep this one relatively close.
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