January 23, 2014 at 2:23 PM #53112
Qbin Missile CrisisKeymaster
Pac-12 competition is starting to heat up, and Thursday night features two teams that have played well thus far. Unfortunately for the Colorado Buffaloes, nobody has played better than the Arizona Wildcats. The team is No. 1 in the nation, and it boasts an undefeated record through 18 games (five in conference). The Buffaloes have gone 4-2 since Pac-12 play began, but it’s the Wildcats who are looking to keep their undefeated streak alive.
Colorado (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) at Arizona (18-0, 5-0 Pac-12)
Thursday, Jan. 23 9:00 p.m. ET
Spread: Arizona -14
The Buffaloes have had a lot going for them this season, but unfortunately, they have one big problem moving forward.
Colorado’s leading scorer, Spencer Dinwiddie, is out for the year with a torn ACL. The team is coming off of an 83-62 win over the USC Trojans, but the outlook is dimmer than it once was with 14.7 points per game to compensate for.
To make matters worse, Tre’Shaun Fletcher is also out with a knee injury. The freshman hadn’t been contributing much to the score sheet, but when injuries begin to pile up, problems begin to multiply.
Historically speaking, these two teams have alternated wins and losses in their last six contests. Arizona won the last one, which means Colorado is due for another victory. Unfortunately, the Wildcats are playing a different brand of ball this season—a brand that will be tough to contain, even with history on the Buffaloes’ side.
Arizona enters this contest as the No. 1 squad in the country, and for good reason. The team is undefeated in both non-conference and conference play, and according to the Associated Press, head coach considers his roster to be confident, “but in a good way.”
As good as the Wildcats are offensively, their defense is their bread and butter. They’re allowing just 56.7 points per game, and they’re a top-15 program when it comes to opposing shooting percentages from the field and from the three-point line.
Arizona runs a solid defensive scheme, but it’s the natural length and athleticism that brings it all together. That’s also why they’re solid on offense. So far on the year, Arizona is scoring 75.9 points per game—the 83rd-best mark in the nation—but efficiency is where the real story is told. The Wildcats are 31st in rebounding, 25th in assists and 14th in field-goal percentage.
With all due respect to Colorado, the question here isn’t whether or not the Buffaloes will win, it’s whether or not they can cover the spread. The Wildcats have home-court advantage, and they have a large spread in their favor for a reason.
If Colorado can play a perfect game all the way through, this one could be closer than expected. But if the Wildcats’ defense lives up to its reputation, this one should be Arizona’s by a relative long shot.
Prediction: Arizona 79 – Colorado 63
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