Arizona travels to Corvallis, Ore., on Sunday night to take on Oregon State in the final game of a weekend loaded with quality college basketball matchups. Both teams enter the game struggling over the past two weeks, each losing three of their last five games and in Arizona’s case, four of its last six.
The Wildcats were 9-0 at the start of December and just five weeks later find themselves at 11-4 but still inside the top 15 of the Kenpom rankings at No. 12. They are led by a fantastic trio of freshmen in Nico Mannion (14.8 points, 6.1 assists), Josh Green (13.1 points, 5.2 rebounds), and Zeke Nnaji (16.2 points, 8.5 rebounds). That trio has shown no signs of slowing down as the schedule ramps up going into conference play.
Seniors Dylan Smith and Chase Jeter have also been solid options for head coach Sean Miller this season, making the Wildcats one of the deepest rosters in the Pac-12.
Oregon State features one of the best scorers in the entire country in senior forward Tres Tinkle, who averaged 20.8 points per game last season and 19.9 this season. He is also head coach Wayne Tinkle’s son.
Junior guard Ethan Thompson is also a high-level scorer at 16.7 points per game. Tinkle and Thompson have combined to drill 55 triples on the season on just 131 attempts.
The Beavers have been alternating wins and losses for the last three weeks but remain inside the Kenpom top 75 at No. 68.
Arizona is a 4.5-point favorite on the road, with the over/under set at 143.5.
Growing Pains Pay Dividends
As the schedule has kicked up in recent weeks, the Arizona youngsters have struggled to deliver W’s while still putting up numbers. Arizona is 8-7 against the spread on the season but just 1-5 ATS in road and neutral-site games.
The Wildcats are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games against Oregon State. Arizona has gone under in eight of its 15 games this season but has also gone under in eight of its last 12 Pac-12 games. The boys from Tuscon have also gone just 1-8 straight up in their last nine true road games.
Gnawing At The Bit For A Quality Win
This is a prime spot for Oregon State to pick up a good win as it is at home and has much more experience than the visiting Wildcats. The Beavers are 12-6 ATS in their last 18 games and are a solid 10-5 against the spread this season overall as well as 6-2 ATS at home.
They have gone over in 11 of their 15 games and five of their last six overall.
Pick and Prediction
Oregon State certainly has the offensive ability to stick with Arizona and Sean Miller’s young guns. The problem is that the Beavers really don’t play a whole lot of defense. Their 67.7 points per game allowed is not terrible, but allowing opponents to shoot north of 34 percent from behind the three-point line is not conducive to winning a ton of games.
Mannion is a bonafide star, and Nnaji has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2019 freshman class. This Beavers team reminds me a little of the Pepperdine team that put 91 on the Wildcats earlier this season and kept it close.
Look for Arizona to collect the win straight up, but Oregon State should keep it close enough to cover at home. Take the over even if it climbs a bit.
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