The Arizona Wildcats and Oregon State Beavers will take the hardwood Thursday in Corvallis at 7 p.m. MST on FOX Sports 1.
Arizona (21-6, 11-3) is looking to win its third straight and move closer to a Pac-12 title. It currently holds a two-game lead in the loss column over USC and UCLA. Oregon State (13-13, 5-9) is looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
The Wildcats beat the Beavers 62-53 in Tucson earlier in the season.
KenPom gives Arizona a 67 percent chance of winning the rematch, with a projected score of 76-71.
Here is how we think the game will unfold. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 74-69
Oregon State is a completely different team at home than on the road. The Beavers are 12-3 in Corvallis, and 1-10 elsewhere.
Add that to the fact OSU’s zone defense really challenged Arizona in Tucson, and I expect Thursday’s game to be close. I just don’t think Oregon State is good enough to pull off the upset. KenPom ranks it as the 103rd team in the country.
Alec Sills-Trausch — Arizona wins 67-53
The game will feel closer than the final score suggests as Arizona fights off another zone defense. If Deandre Ayton starts off hot by hitting 15 footers, thus dismantling the zone, UA should run the Beavers out of the building. But if Arizona starts cold and goes into a ‘hero ball’ mode, it’ll be close(ish). Still think Arizona wins this.
Matt Sheeley — Arizona wins 70-62
The Beavers held the ‘Cats high-powered offense to just 62 points back in mid-January and Corvallis isn’t an easy place to play despite not being a top program in the Pac-12. Under Sean Miller, Arizona is just 3-3 when they travel to Gill Coliseum.
Those things aside, the talent discrepancy and the fact that Arizona has stepped up their defense in their last two games should equal a Wildcat victory on Thursday night. The odds of OSU holding Arizona to 42 percent from the floor like they did in the first meeting are slim at best. It could be close, but Arizona should avoid the upset here.
Steve Apter — Oregon State wins 74-70
Late February is a difficult time for college basketball’s elite as unsuspecting challenges arise from their conference slate.
Oregon State is difficult team to size up at this time of year where their performance has been so inconsistent, so they’re a bit of a moving target when it comes to scouting them. The Beavers have beaten some of the conference’s best with victories over UCLA and Washington, and have lost to the arguably the conference’s worst with a recent loss to Cal. The fact of the matter is Oregon State is playing for their season on Thursday. They need not just a win, but momentum and confidence as they take aim at the Pac-12 tournament.
“You can do anything at the Pac-12 Tournament. We’ve played with every single team. If we get this thing flipped, I think we could make a run for ourselves in that tournament,” OSU leading scorer Tres Trinkle told The Oregonian on Wednesday.
He’s right about playing the conference tough. Despite losing twice as often in Pac-12 play, OSU’s overall point differential is only -2, and actually played Arizona to a one-point lead in their first half of their matchup in Tucson.
If Arizona has any let down defensively they could find themselves chasing a team that has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Jason Bartel — Arizona wins 78-74
I think this game will be close since the Beavs kept it close in Tucson and this one is at a place they have a lot of success...as Ryan already pointed out.
It’s tough for me to take Oregon State in this game though because...well...it’s Oregon State, and this isn’t baseball or women’s basketball.
Christopher Boan — Arizona wins 71-64
Oregon State is legit, with Tres Tinkle, Drew Eubanks, Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson all having the skill to be a thorn in Arizona’s side. As a matter of fact, they all were a thorn, in some way or another, in Arizona’s butt-ugly 62-53 win over the Beavers last month, providing moments of grandeur, before stumbling at the end.
It’s a shame for Coach Wayne Tinkle that these fellas aren’t a year older, because they’d be a tour de force in this year’s Pac-12 if so.
Unfortunately, there is no way to break the space-time continuum to do so (that I know of), so they’re going to come up a day late and a dollar short against the Wildcats again.
Expect the Beavers to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Arizona, but to go cold down the stretch, allowing Arizona to escape Corvallis with their backsides intact.