Arizona got a much needed win over Oregon State last Saturday and travels to the Great Northwest to face Washington State, making for thought provoking college basketball picks.
While Arizona was blowing game to Oregon, coach Sean Miller got torqued and started screaming at his team on the bench. The passion was fine but the opposite point of view was this dude went loony. There were questions about mental state of the Wildcats and they fell from -13.5 to -11 against the Beavers at home and played a super second half to win 80-63.
If Arizona has expectations of still catching the Ducks in the Pac-12, they cannot afford any slipups and have to pull off a sweep in the Evergreen State. This first starts in Pullman against last place Washington State, who is 1-8 and 2-7 ATS in league play. This contest is on the Pac-12 Network at 7:00 Pacific and the NCAA basketball odds have the Cougars as double digit underdogs.
The Wildcats are 17-5 (12-10 ATS) and while those from Tucson and other destinations feel Arizona should have a better record, this team has not always played hard or done their best. This is why they have been tagged five times for losses. Some players took their coaches berating to heart like captain Gabe York (14.5 points a game) and played like he had something to prove. “Coach challenged all of us,” York said. “I’m not speaking for everybody, but for me I took that to heart. I took it upon myself that I need to be a better captain, a better leader and tonight (Saturday) my teammates found me.”
The next question is did the Wildcats players actually learn something or is it gone and they slip back into more passive ways? Like all teams, Arizona is not quite as good defensively on the road, with opponents shooting 43.7 percent compared to 41.8 percent at the McKale Center. This contest will about the Wildcats recommitting themselves and players like center Kaleb Tarczewski (10.5) and Kadeem Allen (9.0) upping their game and bringing the passion.
Even now it is hard to fathom the Cougars (9-12 and 9-11 ATS) upset UCLA 86-78 as four-point home underdogs back on Jan.3rd. Coach Ernie Kent’s club has not won since, losing by 15.4 PPG. At least coach Kent can fire up the troops having lost almost three weeks ago 90-66 to Arizona.