Where: Tucson, Arizona
Line: Arizona -12
Arizona (12-0) kicks off the Pac-12 season with what will already be a critical game for their conference success, as the Colorado Buffaloes (10-2) are one of a few teams that have a realistic chance of upsetting Arizona for the Pac-12 Crown.
1. Tonight’s starting lineups
Arizona will start Mark Lyons (6’1″), Nick Johnson (6’3″), Solomon Hill (6’7″), Brandon Ashley(6’9″) and Kaleb Tarczewski (7’0). The Buffs will go with Askia Booker (6’1″), Sabatino Chen (6’4″), Spencer Dinwiddie (6’6″), Andre Roberson (6’7″) and Josh Scott (6’10″). The size factor, therefore, goes to Arizona, but not by a lot. The experience factor is about equal.
2. The Betting Line
Do not be fooled by Vegas’s 12 point betting line in favor of the Wildcats. Colorado is a very good team and either Vegas knows something I don’t or like the east coast, doesn’t stay up late enough to watch Pac-12 basketball. Colorado has the 4th best RPI in the country (Arizona has the 5th), having the 7th toughest schedule in the country (Arizona has the 40th) and beating several top 50 RPI teams (Colorado’s only two losses come to top 50 RPI teams as well).
One thing Vegas might be looking at is depth. With its incredible depth and a capable backup at every posistion, Arizona has shown an ability to completely wear down teams who do not have the same quantity of talent. Colorado has six players who contribute more than 20 minutes per game; after that, the production drops off substantially.
3. Shooting offense and defense
Wow are the numbers for these two teams comparable. Arizona shoots 47.3% from the field (39.1% from distance) and holds its opponents to 38.9% (35.1% from distance). Colorado shoots 47.3% from the field (39.5% from distance) and holds its opponents to 39% (32.8% from distance).
A difference that may help the Wildcats is ball distribution. Arizona averages about four more asssists per game than Colorado does, which often leads to more open looks at the basket.
4. Players to Watch
Andre Roberson will be on the ballot for Pac-12 Player of the year. The dude averages 12 points and 12 rebounds per game and is one of the best defenders in the conference. He is a 52% shooter with 41% accuracy from the three point line. Don’t leave out Spencer Dinwiddie either, who shoots with 49% accuracy (46% from distance), averages 14.4 points per game and leads the team in assists.