Arizona (7-2) won last season’s matchup in Tucson 88-82, but KenPom gives Alabama (5-3) a 53 percent chance of winning the rematch, with a projected score of 73-72.
A victory would be huge for the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament aspirations, giving them another quality road win over a major-conference team after they topped UConn in Hartford last Sunday.
Here is what we think will happen in Tuscaloosa. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 72-59
For the second Sunday afternoon in a row, Arizona will go on the road and pick up a convincing win, and this one will be a little sweeter for the Wildcats. After coming to life in the second half against Utah Valley, Arizona will carry that confidence into the opening possessions of Sunday’s game and take an early lead that never fades away. Alabama is coming off a shocking loss to Georgia State earlier this week, and the Crimson Tide won’t have the enthusiasm to last 40 minutes against a superior opponent in Arizona.
Motivation will play a factor in this one as well. Arizona point guard Justin Coleman began his career in Tuscaloosa but never found his stride with Alabama. Coleman will have another prolific outing on his once home court. Meanwhile, Sean Miller surely wants to make an impression on his former boss Greg Byrne, now the athletic director at Alabama. In an otherwise sluggish day game, Arizona will have enough fuel to clear the Crimson Tide with room to spare.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 75-70
I was really impressed by the way Arizona handled a tough road environment last week, and Alabama has really struggled this year, dropping games to Northeastern, UCF and Georgia State, so I like the Wildcats to take this one Tuscaloosa.
It will be a good challenge for Arizona’s offense though, as the Crimson Tide are long and athletic. Same goes for rebounding. Alabama is solid on the glass on both sides of the ball and the Wildcats have been prone to trouble in that area. As always, they need Chase Jeter to stay out of foul trouble.
On a side note, I am excited to see how Justin Coleman and Dylan Smith play. Both are from Alabama and Coleman even spent two seasons with the Crimson Tide before transferring to Samford.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 69-66
Arizona looked awfully poised when it played at UConn last week, leading nearly wire-to-wire and never looking rattled by the crowd or the atmosphere. Can the Wildcats do that again at Coleman Coliseum, which holds 15,000 but hasn’t had a crowd bigger than 9,793 there this season?
Alabama has struggled so far this season, losing most recently at home against Georgia State, but expect the Crimson Tide to be up for this game because of the quality of the opponent and the fact that many of their players were on the losing end of the trip to McKale Center last December.
But this is also a chance for Justin Coleman to shine in front of friends and family back home in Alabama. Look for some of that Maui Invitational swagger to re-emerge, and that could be the difference.
Scott Moran — Arizona wins 74-69
Before the Utah Valley game, where we trailed for most of the first half, I would’ve picked Arizona pretty easily. I still think the Wildcats are a more complete team, but Avery Johnson is a great coach and the game’s played in Coleman Coliseum. I’m still gonna pick Arizona to win 74-69, but I think Alabama fans will see a close matchup between two teams that have struggled against lesser competition.
Alec Sills-Trausch — Arizona wins 67-59
The Cats haven’t looked particularly good this season but have found ways to win and that’s what will happen in Tuscaloosa on Sunday. Arizona has just enough talent to keep this from being a nail-biter, but their inconsistencies will allow Bama to stay in it for longer than they should.
Zant Reyez — Arizona wins 70-68
This smells like a game where Alabama plays out of its mind and scares Arizona and the fans for the first half and a good chuck of the second. The Wildcats, however, pull away and get the W.