First up are the Utes who Arizona faces on Thursday night in Salt Lake City at 7 p.m. MST on ESPN.
Arizona (11-3) enters on an eight-game winning streak, coming off an impressive victory over then-No. 3 Arizona State.
Meanwhile, Utah (10-3) had an outstanding start to conference play, sweeping the Oregon schools in the Pacific Northwest last weekend.
KenPom gives Arizona 58 percent chance of beating Utah with a predicted score of 73-71. The Wildcats are 3.5-point favorites, per ESPN.
Utah beat Arizona the last time the Wildcats ventured into Salt Lake, but who will win Thursday?
We made our predictions below. Be sure to leave yours in the comment section.
Alec Sills-Trausch — Arizona wins 69-59
You guys ready to slow it down? Because that’s what will happen Thursday. Both teams are in the 200s in adjusted pace according to KenPom.
This bodes well for Arizona who will get to settle into their offense and won’t be pressured to rush the ball up and down the court like against Arizona State.
I also don’t expect the Utes to be much of a threat but if Arizona is to lose an away game outside of this state, then this is probably the game it happens (but I’m not banking on it).
‘Cats push their USA winning streak to nine with this nice score.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 77-71
This will probably be the toughest game Arizona will play until Feb. 15 when it rematches ASU.
Utah plays a slow pace and is decent defensively, plus shoots a lot of 3s which can be a dangerous combination in a low-possession game.
Playing in Salt Lake City is tricky too because of the elevation and the opposing crowd, but I still think Arizona wins this game in a close one. The Wildcats are playing well right now and I don’t see them losing to a decent-but-not-good team like Utah.
Plus, Arizona matches up well against Utah which uses a fairly big frontcourt.
Matt Sheeley — Arizona wins 76-63
People are overlooking Utah a bit. They play really good defense and shoot a lot of 3-pointers. That’s an excellent recipe for an upset. But Arizona can go bucket for bucket with anybody and if they attack the basket, Utah will eventually fold. It’ll be close for 30, maybe 35 minutes. But the Wildcats will tire the Utes out and pull away for a win
Christopher Boan — Arizona wins 78-70
Utah has a few decent players, including David Collette and Justin Bibbins (who average 13.2 and 13.1 points per game, respectively). They don’t have anyone that can match Deandre Ayton’s athleticism, and certainly can’t match the depth that Arizona has 1-8. I expect the Utes to keep this one close for 25 minutes or so, before Allonzo Trier, Rawle Alkins and Ayton team up to destroy their souls.
Rob Leano — Arizona wins 85-69
Get ready for Arizona to start to run away with the W's. Other than ASU, the Pac-12 schedule is very disappointing. Arizona shouldn’t have too much of a problem this weekend in the Rockies.
Plus, I was around a few colleagues the other day, who by the way were watching Arizona for the first time this season, and there was a common theme: “Wow that No. 13 is stupid good.” Yeah. That’s Deandre Ayton... and he won’t be stopped.
But Ayton isn’t it. Rawkle Alkins, Allonzo Trier, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright have picked up their games as well. And Arizona seems to be a completely different team than a couple months ago (fingers crossed).
To put it short: Arizona’s got this one.
******Celebrity Guest Appearance*****
Gabe Encinas — Arizona wins 83-75
I watched my first full Arizona basketball on December 30 for the first time since the Michigan State in the Armed Forces Classic, both of which were great games.
It doesn’t look like Utah has very many good wins and they have some big losses against the quality opponents. At Utah makes this thing intriguing but I’ll say Arizona wins.