Arizona handled UConn 73-58 in Tucson last season, but both teams have undergone their fair share of change since then. The Wildcats have five new starters and UConn, which returned most of its roster, has a new coach in Danny Hurley, who was pried away from Rhode Island.
Arizona enters at 5-2 with losses to Gonzaga and Auburn in the Maui Invitational. UConn is 6-1, including a big win against Syracuse on a neutral court. However, the Huskies did lose to Iowa by 19.
KenPom predicts UConn will beat Arizona 76-75, giving the Wildcats a 49 percent win probability. Vegas lists Arizona as a one-point favorite with an over/under of 152. Basically, it’s a toss-up.
Tip-off is scheduled for 11 a.m. MT on ESPN2.
Here’s how we think the game will shake out. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Brian J. Pedersen — UConn wins 81-74
Arizona has had no problem handling Bobby Hurley, holding a 6-0 mark since he became Arizona State’s coach. This may be the year the Hurley’s Sun Devils get the best of the Wildcats, but not until after another member of his family beats him to it.
Dan Hurley has re-energized a slowly stagnating UConn program with his fiery demeanor, one that was on full display after his Huskies upset Syracuse last month. He’s managed to get the most out of a roster that is pretty much the same as the one that went 14-18 under Kevin Ollie yet hung with Arizona for most of a 73-58 loss in Tucson last December.
After being unable to keep up with Gonzaga and Auburn in Maui, Arizona needs to show it has learned from its mistakes. This is a chance to do so, but the Wildcats will ultimately come up short.
Zant Reyez — UConn wins 77-68
Arizona seems like it’ll play better ball come January. I just don’t think is quite ready to handle a long trip for an early game.
It’s going to be interesting how this team evolves in the next month. There’s no superstar, no number one pick on the team. There’s just a collection of players with questions marks attached to them. To see if those question marks are answered should keep fans tuning in.
Scott Moran — Arizona wins 71-67
Hartford scares me, as it should for any college basketball fan. UConn’s had issues, but they’re still a great program with the talent to win this game. If Arizona hadn’t played in Maui, so far from home, I’d be a lot more worried about this game. It’s still a true road test this squad hasn’t faced yet, but I’m gonna pick Arizona to win 71-67. It should be a nail-biter, and let’s just say I’m glad UA is playing UConn before Hurley brings this program to the juggernaut status it’s probably headed towards.
Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 78-75
In their first true road test of the year, the Wildcats will squeak out a win over Connecticut by way of late game contributions from Chase Jeter and Ryan Luther. Arizona must capitalize in the paint against a Huskies team with an exploitable inside defense. UConn should stay close by outshooting Arizona, but the Wildcats will prevail in a matchup of two blue bloods seeking a signature win.
Ryan Kelapire — UConn wins 77-74
This will be a good test of Arizona’s effort level, which has been commendable all season. It is a very early tip-off and the Huskies will be energized by their home crowd. It’s easy to see how the Wildcats could sleepwalk in the early goings.
UConn’s ability to crash the offensive glass — it ranks 23rd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage — is what should scare Arizona, since defensive rebounding was a big problem for the Wildcats when they faced good frontcourts in Maui.
Chase Jeter needs to stay out of foul trouble and Arizona needs to get some type of production from whoever starts at the 4, whether it be Ryan Luther or Emmanuel Akot.
Limiting turnovers is obviously key as well.
Still, I will take the Huskies in a close one. I’m not sure this Arizona team is good enough yet to win a road game against a respectable team. But boy would a victory be huge for UA’s NCAA Tournament aspirations.