The No. 3 Arizona Wildcats try to take a step closer to a Pac-12 regular-season title when they take on the Oregon Ducks in a conference clash on Saturday night. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 10 p.m. ET at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz.
Oregon (17-9, 10-5 Pac-12) has lost two of its last three, including a road loss against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday night. The Ducks are in fourth place in the Pac-12 standings, sitting a half-game behind the third-place UCLA Bruins and 1½ games ahead of the fifth-place Washington Huskies.
The Wildcats (23-2, 13-1) are streaking toward the Pac-12 regular-season crown, having won seven straight, including a 14-point win over the visiting Oregon State Beavers on Thursday. Arizona is atop the conference standings with a 2½-game lead over the second-place USC Trojans and a three-game advantage over the third-place Bruins.
The college basketball lines for this contest have the Wildcats as 13½-point favorites, with the over/under set at 150. If you prefer to bet online on the moneyline, you can get Arizona at -1000 or Oregon at +700.
The last five games on the schedule should have been a good stretch for the Ducks, as they were facing five teams in the bottom half of the Pac-12 standings. But a 3-2 record, including 1-2 in the last three, has Oregon needing to put together some wins in a hurry if it wants to stay in the top six of the conference.
The problem with that is that Oregon now starts a stretch of three straight against ranked opponents, with home games against No. 13 UCLA and No. 17 USC to follow Saturday’s contest. If Oregon wants to make its NCAA Tournament case loud and clear, now would be the time to make it, as many prognosticators have the Ducks being out of the field when it’s announced next month.
If Oregon is going to pull the upset, it’s going to need a big game from guard Will Richardson, who is fifth in the conference in scoring at 15.0 points per game and eighth in assists with 3.5 per contest. The senior had just 12 points on Thursday, shooting 1-of-7 from 3-point range, but he’s second in the league with his .419 3-point percentage this season, so he can get hot if given the looks.
Center N’Faly Dante is the team’s top rebounder at 5.6 per game, but the Ducks must all hit the glass against Arizona, which tops the Pac-12 with 43.5 rebounds per game. Dante and Quincy Guerrier (5.2 rebounds) must be able to stay in the game and be aggressive in the paint on both ends of the floor.
The Wildcats have been nearly unbeatable this season in part because they can beat an opponent in multiple ways. Arizona has perimeter players that can shoot it to a win, or, when those shooters are a little cold like they were Thursday night, the interior players can lead the charge. Against Oregon State, Arizona hit just 4-of-18 from beyond the 3-point arc but was able to adapt with 52 paint points.
“That’s a good thing about our team,” junior center Christian Koloko said after Thursday’s win. “We’ve got different pieces. When we’re not shooting well, we still have bigs like me, Oumar (Ballo) and Azuolas (Tubelis). They just deliver it inside, and every time we get the ball, we play hard.”
The Wildcats have the third- and fourth-leading scorers in the Pac-12 in guard Bennedict Mathurin (17.2 points) and Tubelis (15.2). Mathurin is also averaging 5.8 rebounds and shooting 36.9% from 3-point range, while Tubelis is contributing 6.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists while hitting 55% of his field-goal attempts.
Koloko is capable of a big game as well, as he’s averaging 12.1 points and a team-best 7.4 rebounds per game. He’s also a problem for opponents on the defensive end, as he leads the Pac-12 with 3.0 blocks per contest.
Guard Kerr Kriisa is the fourth double-digit scorer for coach Tommy Lloyd, averaging 10.0 points and a team-best 4.8 assists per game, which ranks second in the conference. The sophomore has scored six or fewer points in his last six games, however, so he may be looking to break out against the Ducks.
The Wildcats are on a different level this season, with plenty of firepower throughout their lineup. Oregon will keep this one close for a bit, but the Ducks just won’t be able to keep up with the Pac-12 leaders for 40 minutes.
When doing your college basketball betting, take Arizona to win and cover at home.