In a matchup of two of the best teams on the West Coast, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will travel to Tuscon to take on the Arizona Wildcats Saturday in a matchup of two 10-1 teams looking for a resume-building win.
The Wildcats need a good win, having lost to the only good team they have played thus far in Baylor. While they own a win over Illinois, they played poorly against both Wake Forest and Pepperdine, two teams that are much below their station. The 91 points given up to the Pepperdine starting five was an embarrassing performance by the Arizona defense.
The Wildcats are led by an elite freshman class of Nico Mannion and Josh Green in the backcourt along with big man Zeke Nnaji, all of whom average at least 12 points per game. Nnaji currently leads the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage, while Mannion leads the league in assists with 68.
Gonzaga enters the game as one of the premier teams in the country after being undervalued in the preseason. The Bulldogs are fresh off a win against Washington last weekend and already have four wins against quadrant one and two teams, with their lone loss coming at the hands of Michigan in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
The Bulldogs are led by sophomore big man Filip Petrusev (15.8 points, 8.5 rebounds) and junior wing Corey Kispert (13.7 points, 42 percent on three-pointers).
Arizona is a three-point favorite playing at home in this one, with the over/under set at 152.
There Are Few Road Warriors Like Gonzaga
The Bulldogs come into the game with a 6-4-1 record against the spread and have gone over in eight of their 11 games, including their last five. They currently rank in the top 40 in almost every offensive metric, according to Kenpom, but their 276th-ranked schedule is something to take notice of. Kispert has stepped into a leadership role, while Petrusev has been a revelation for Mark Few’s group.
Gonzaga’s 85.9 points per game ranks in the top five in the nation, while its adjusted defensive efficiency currently ranks 38th.
Wildcats, Or Just Kittens?
Arizona is one of the more interesting teams in the nation. On the one hand, it is incredibly talented, but that talent lies with its freshman trio. Sean Miller’s team is also 6-5 against the spread and have gone under in six of its 11 games.
The Wildcats have seemingly figured out their defensive issues with a recent 50-point drubbing of Omaha, but efforts against Pepperdine, Wake Forest, and Pennsylvania are still present in the rearview.
Pick and Prediction
Gonzaga is 4-0 on the road straight up this season, while Arizona is 10-0 at home. The Wildcats are 46-1 at home in November and December going back to the 2014-15 season, but this is an experienced Gonzaga squad and an Arizona team that is led by freshmen.
The Bulldogs have shot poorly in their last two games, while Arizona is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation. Gonzaga is also not the best free-throw shooting team at 66 percent, which could play a part in what is sure to be a close game. Take the Wildcats to win at home and lay the points.
With both of these teams currently ranking in the top eight in the nation in points per game, the over is probably the safest play.
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