The Arizona Wildcats and Stanford Cardinal will battle for sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 on Saturday at 2 p.m. MST in Palo Alto, Calif.
Arizona (15-4, 5-1 Pac-12) has won three straight, while Stanford (11-8, 5-1) has won five straight including a victory over Arizona State on Wednesday.
KenPom gives Arizona a 69 percent chance of winning with a projected score of 77-72. ESPN lists the Wildcats as 5.5-point favorites.
Here is what we think will happen Saturday, and be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 72-68
Nobody in the Pac-12 is playing better than Stanford right now, and it has one of the top players in the conference in Reid Travis, whose inside-out game should be a tough cover for Arizona.
But Sean Miller has never lost to the Cardinal, and I don’t think that will change Saturday. Having Rawle Alkins back definitely increases UA’s margin of error.
Christopher Boan — Stanford wins 68-67
This is a bold (and probably idiotic) pick, but I’m buying Jerod Haase’s stock right now. Reid Travis is a beast, and that human giant named Josh Sharma, who scored a career-high 14 points against ASU on Thursday, is a beast. I expect Arizona to puke all over itself for 25 minutes or so (a la their performance in Boulder, the Bahamas, etc.), and to not recover fast enough to escape Maples Pavilion with a win.
Scott Moran — Arizona wins 79-76
Stanford deserves all the respect and hype they’ve been receiving in the Pac-12. The team is absolutely on fire and they can reach the tournament even after a rough start to the season. Even in Palo Alto, however, I think Arizona will win.
Arizona coasted on talent to beat an undermatched Cal squad, and they simply can’t do that against the Cardinal. If the Wildcats don’t have a solid gameplan that they execute well, Stanford can easily win. However, I trust Miller and the talent on the roster to get a hard-earned win and to take sole possession of the Pac-12 lead.
It’ll be a very exciting game that should come down to the last few minutes. Whether Arizona plays well enough to win or not, the two teams will put on a show in Palo Alto.
Steve Apter — Arizona wins 80-73
Earlier this week, Stanford earned their first victory over a top-25 team under second year head coach Jerod Haase, defeating ASU 86-77. While the Cardinal are in the midst of an impressive stretch of basketball, vaulting them into a first-place tie with Arizona in the Pac-12, expect them to come back to earth on Saturday.
Arizona State gave a listless effort on Wednesday, allowing Stanford to secure 13 offensive rebounds, and 28 bench points on 11-11 shooting. While ASU has been free-falling in the month of January, Arizona has shown more grit defensively since their loss to Colorado, and expect that trend to continue.
Getting Rawle Alkins back certainly is a boost for the Wildcats against a team featuring two stretch big men in Kezie Okpala and Reid Travis. Arizona holds off Stanford, as the Cardinal begin a tough stretch in their conference slate, with trips So. Cal, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona looming.
Matt Sheeley — Arizona wins 83-71
I realize this is a battle between the two teams that sit at the top of the conference at 5-1. I realize Stanford has won five in a row with a few impressive wins over Arizona State, USC and a road win in Washington. And I also realize that the Wildcats lost a Saturday road matinee just two weeks ago that they were “supposed” to win.
But Sean Miller is undefeated against Stanford and the Wildcats have made a mockery of the Cardinal the last two times they’ve traveled to Palo Alto. Stanford deserves Arizona’s respect. If they don’t get it, the Wildcats can expect a punch in the mouth, much like they got two weeks ago in Boulder.
But behind a healthy Rawle Alkins, I expect Arizona to pull away in the final 10 minutes for a comfortable 12-point win.
Robby Leano — Arizona wins 76-71
I’d write an entire paragraph here on why I believe Arizona will win and how Stanford has been an impressive team up to this point. But everything that’s been said above is everything that needs to be said. I’ll just leave it at that.
Alec Sills-Trausch — Arizona wins 76-61
Arizona locks in another Bay Area sweep behind the usual catalysts of Trier and Ayton. Reid Travis v.s Ayton will be a fun individual matchup but everywhere else UA will have an easy advantage. And Rawle is playing, so this should be even more of a blowout.
Jason Bartel — Stanford wins by 5
Because they have a competent big man.