The Arizona Wildcats (21-9, 12-5 Pac-12) head into their final matchup of the regular season by taking a trip up north to visit their instate rival the Arizona State Sun Devils (9-20, 5-12 Pac-12) in a game that holds a lot of implications for the Cats. Arizona is rolling and riding high with their momentum closing out the season strong by going 7-1 in the month of February and look to take care of business against one of the bottom feeders of the conference. A loss against ASU would be devastating and would ensure that the Cats would have to win the Pacific 12 Conference Tournament to be guaranteed in the field of 64.
This game has all the ingredients to be a hard fought especially with the hatred that each team has towards one another. ASU has absolutely nothing to play for but to ruin Arizona’s chances at getting a bid into March Madness. Sendek and the Sun Devils would love to be the team to withhold the Cats from dancing in March but it will be a tough task for them to do.
In the first meeting between the two teams Arizona was able to get the victory at McKale Center winning by 17 points in a game that never felt close. Perry had 16 and 7, Hill 11 and 10 and Johnson added 14 points as the Cats cruised to bring on the New Year. At that time head coach Sean Miller was still shuffling the line up and 10 players played significant minutes. As we know now, injuries and a tighter hold on the line up, Arizona has been relying on a 7 man rotation. Jordin Mayes, who has been handicapped with a foot injury looks to return and would love to see some extended time to be in shape as the team moves forward. His availability will be much needed as Arizona looks to make a run in the Pacific 12 Tournament to try and get some much needed wins to get off of the bubble watch. As it stands right now, Joe Lunardi (ESPN’s bracketology guru) has Arizona as an 11 seed, not safe enough by any accounts.
A matchup to focus on is going to be how Arizona will guard ASU’s big man Jordan Bachynski. He came up huge for ASU in a win over USC as he was able to score 19 points and grab 9 rebounds. He is a matchup problem on paper because he stands 7’2” and Perry, Arizona’s center comes in at 6”7”. However he will have trouble staying in front of Arizona’s front line because they posses the speed and agility to drive past him in the lane so this matchup will be interesting. If ASU is able to slow down the tempo of the game this matchup would favor ASU however Arizona has too much firepower on the perimeter to be contained, especially with the overall lack of talent ASU has on the roster.
Kyle Fogg has played huge to close out his career and look for him to continue along with Solomon Hill who did not have his best game against UCLA. At this point in the season there aren’t many adjustments that a coach can make to change the outcome of a game like this. Arizona has the better players and the better coach and with their eyes on March Madness look for Arizona to get the big win. 76-53 Arizona.