One of the hottest teams in the nation will be matched up against the best team in the country on Saturday. No.23 Wisconsin visits No.1 Arizona in a headline matchup for NCAA picks today. This will be the first game of the season where Arizona plays as the top-ranked team, while Wisconsin has won six straight against tough opponents.
In the Badgers‘ last game, they beat up Michigan State 70-57, a team that had a lot of high expectations before the season started and has not lived up to them. The Wildcats secured the top spot in the nation after beating Colgate 82-55, remaining undefeated while the other elite teams lost.
Wisconsin Always Physical
Despite Wisconsin maybe not getting off to the best start, it is rounding into form. The Badgers started the season with a 1-2 record, with a loss to ranked Tennessee and falling on the road to Providence. However, the winning streak over the last six games has shifted college basketball odds.
During the streak, Wisconsin has beaten a ranked Virginia, won the Fort Myers Tip-Off – Beach Division against SMU, upset then-No. 3 Marquette and, finally, dominated Michigan State. That is a worthy stretch of games to move the Badgers into the AP Top 25.
One of the ways that the Badgers have been able to shift their college basketball lines is by outplaying teams physically. While Wisconsin might not look like a dominant team on the boards, averaging 34.3 rebounds per game, what it does to other teams is impressive. Opponents average the fewest rebounds per game against Wisconsin in the nation (27.1) and the third-fewest offensive rebounds (6.8).
Part of that is due to Wisconsin’s elite defense, combined with the physicality, forces opponents out of the paint. That was on full display in the big win over Marquette, with Wisconsin winning the rebounding battle 38-23. Add in AJ Storr averaging 14.2 points per game, after scoring 22 against Michigan State, and that is why Wisconsin enters this matchup playing extremely well.
Arizona Deserves to Be at the Top
Few teams have been able to match up with Arizona, leading to it having the second-biggest point differential at 30.8 points. That includes a 78-73 win over Duke on the road in the season’s second game. That is a massive reason why college basketball spreads favor the Wildcats.
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Arizona has been utterly dominant in all aspects on the court. The Wildcats are third in points per game (93.4) while leading the nation in rebounds (47.1). That is supported by a balanced roster with each player fitting in perfectly.
Five players on the Wildcats are averaging over 10 points per game, led by Caleb Love (13.3), who also leads the team in assists per game at 4.4. Next is Keshad Johnson (12.9), who also leads the team in rebounds per game at 6.6. Both players are transfers, with Johnson joining Arizona from San Diego State after playing in the national championship game last season.
The only reason for college basketball predictions to not fully back Arizona is because it has not been regularly tested. The Wildcats have that big win on the road against Duke, but their next marquee matchup came against Michigan State, which now does not mean too much. Facing Wisconsin will be the first of three ranked opponents over the next four games, a true measuring-stick stretch for Arizona.
Wisconsin vs Arizona Best Bet
This is an exciting game for college basketball picks. Arizona is one of the top teams in the nation and is rightfully ranked that way. However, Wisconsin has proven it can be a thorn in the side of some of the top teams.
Still, the Wildcats have shown enough to hold their spot on top of the AP Top 25 and will prove that with a big win over the Badgers.
Best Bet: Arizona -8½
Wisconsin vs Arizona Game Information
- Game: Wisconsin (7-2) vs Arizona (7-0)
- Location: McKale Center, Tucson, AZ
- Day/Time: Saturday, Dec. 9, 3:15 p.m. ET
- Wisconsin vs Arizona Live Stream: TBS.com