Arizona Basketball Preview: No. 18 Arizona takes on Stanford in first 2017 game

Dec 30, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; The Arizona Wildcats huddle before the throw in against the California Golden Bears during the first half at Haas Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; The Arizona Wildcats huddle before the throw in against the California Golden Bears during the first half at Haas Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

After knocking off Cal in their Pac-12 opener, the No. 18 Arizona Wildcats (12-2, 1-0) continue their Bay Area road trip as they take on Stanford (8-5, 0-1) on New Year’s Day.

Dec 30, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; Arizona Wildcats forward Keanu Pinder (25) and guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright (0) and teammates celebrate during the second half against the California Golden Bears at Haas Pavilion. Arizona defeated California 67-62. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Cats began conference play on a high note by earning a road victory at Cal in Haas Pavilion. After initially coming out rusty, Arizona was able to impose their will in the paint and grind out a hard-fought victory at a venue where they’ve had little success in season’s past.

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Arizona should be happy with their win; however, they cannot afford a let down in Maples Pavilion on New Year’s Day, when they take on the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford is fresh off a high-scoring affair in which they came up short against the Arizona State Sun Devils by a score of 98-93.

First-year Stanford Head Coach Jerod Haase will be looking to pick up his first win over a ranked opponent as a Pac-12 coach when the Cats come to town. While the Cardinal have yet to pick up a marquee victory, they have had several opportunities this season to do so.

Stanford began the season with a neutral site win in China against Harvard and have also played in the Advocare Invitational Tournament; however, they failed to keep things close against some of college basketball’s better teams as they lost at No. 3 Kansas, 89-74 and to No. 19 St. Mary’s at home, 66-51.

Tra Holder
Tra Holder /

chipped in with 25 points off the bench.

The Cardinal were able to hang with the Sun Devils thanks to Marcus Sheffield‘s game-high 35 points. Forward Reid Travis and guard/forward Dorian Pickens scored 21 and 18 points respectively; however, these three players were Stanford’s only starters to register any points.

In total, only five Stanford players were able to score points, which should simplify the Wildcats’ defensive assignments. While Travis, Pickens and Sheffield are easily Stanford’s best players, they all scored well above their season averages on Friday night and would need another collective monster effort on offense to topple the visiting Cats.

As it stands, Arizona is picked to win a close game; however, I think that they will be able to assert their dominance in the paint and on the glass early in the game. The Wildcats’ front court performed well against a much better team in Cal and the guards were able to slash for easy lay-ups on offense. Given that Stanford has a relaxed perimeter defense, the Cats should be able to score from deep as well.

Prediction: Arizona 77- Stanford 63 A focused Cats team dominates early for a wire-to-wire, double digit win at Stanford to complete the Bay Area sweep and earn their first win of 2017.

Here’s more information on where you can watch the game:

Date: Sunday, January 1st

Time: 5:00 pm PST, 6:00 pm MST

Location: Maples Pavilion (7,392)

Line: Arizona -3.5

Television: PAC12N

Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network Arizona Wildcats (Try TuneIn Radio)

Team Records:

  • Arizona Wildcats (12-2, 1,0): lost to No. 13 Butler and No. 7 Gonzaga on neutral courts, possess six-game winning streak
  • Stanford Cardinal (8-5, 0-1): started the season 6-1, have been 2-4 since

Arizona Starting Lineup (Probable):

PG Kadeem Allen

SG Kobi Simmons

SF Rawle Alkins

PF Lauri Markkanen 

C Dusan Ristic

Next: Sean Miller Gets 200th Win

The Arizona-Stanford rivalry has featured some classic games in years past at Maples Pavilion; however, the Cats own a 13-game winning streak against the Cardinal (and are a perfect 12-0 against Stanford under Miller). The Wildcats lead the head-to-head series 61-26 (70.1 percent). Bear Down, Arizona!