Where: Tucson, AZ
When: 11:00 PM EST
TV: ESPN 2/Watch ESPN
The Arizona Wildcats play the Washington Huskies in Tucson on Wednesday night. We are now looking at the final 5 games before the Pac 12 tournament and then the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats will try to start looking once again like the team that defeated 2 possible # 1 seeds (Florida and Miami) on Wednesday night.
The Teams: Arizona comes into the game with a ranking of #12, an RPI at #10, and an overall record of 21-4. The Wildctas have been struggling in recent games, having lost 2 of it’s last 3 games. The Cats have the talent and depth to turn it around and need to start tonight at home. Meanwhile, Washington comes into the contest with an overall record of 14-12 and an RPI ranking at #83. The Huskies only chance to make the NCAA tournament would be to win the Pac 12 tournament, so they are in the role of spoiler for the rest of the regular season. Make no mistake about it, the teams are a lot more evenly matched than the records would indicate, and Arizona knows this after eeking out a 57-52 win at UW on Jan 31st.
What Arizona must do to win: The Wildcats need to start shooting the ball better, especially form 3 point range. The Cats have shot only 27 percent from 3 point range in it’s last 2 contests and only 39% overall versus Cal. It is becoming a theme that the Wildcats need to come from behind for wins, and when that happens 3′s start to go up rapidly. The key to this team succeeding is to get to the rim and make free throws, once that starts to happen the 3′s open up and the team is hard to stop.
What Washington must do to win: The Huskies just plain and simple need to start scoring more. Coach Romar is used to having teams that are near the top of the Nation in scoring, but this team is only ranked 147th nationally in that category. The team has lost a lot of talent to the NBA, so his philosophy of shoot early and crash the boards does not work without the talent needed to make it happen. That is exactly what the team needs to do to beat the Wildcats Wednesday night. This team is capable of putting together a great offensive show, having just gone for 96 points in early February versus ASU.
Key Players: The Arizona Wildcats have plenty of firepower and will look to the Big 3 once again. Nick Johnson, Solomon Hill, and Mark Lyons are the driving force to this team. When all 3 are on the team is virtually unbeatable. The Wildcats will need to start getting a LOT more from the Freshmen trio of Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, and Grant Jarrett as well. When one of the Big 3 is off it becomes apparent that the Cats struggle offensively, and that is when these Freshmen will need to show a killer instinct. For Washington, the team is run by 2 main players. Chris Wilcox is a scoring machine and a pure shooter, and Aziz N’Diaye is the man that controls the paint. Wilcox averages almost 18 points per game, while shooting 38% from 3 point range. N’Diaye is averaging 10.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest.
The Outcome: The Wildcats will throw many different defenders at Chris Wilcox and force other players on the Huskies to score. In Washington, Wilcox was only 4-16 facing the tough Arizona defenders. Look for the Big 3 for Arizona to dominate and Kaleb Tarczewski to be aggressive versus N’Diaye as the Wildcats power out an impressive win.
Arziona 78 Washington 64