First-place Arizona (19-5, 9-2 Pac-12) is coming off a loss to Washington, while UCLA (16-7, 7-4) is riding high on a three-game winning streak.
Still, the Wildcats are undefeated at home this season and KenPom gives Arizona a 75 percent of beating the Bruins, with a projected score of 85-78.
Here is what we think will happen Thursday. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Jason Bartel — Arizona wins 88-84
I’ve said it before and I’ll stick to it now, but I still think Arizona goes unbeaten at home this year. Doesn’t mean it’ll be pretty, but I believe they’ll be able to hold off the Bruins in this one.
For me to come up with any other analysis besides “UCLA is a decent team so it’ll be close and high scoring but Arizona will grind it out” is beyond my limits for this game.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 86-80
I’m with Jason in that I think Arizona will go undefeated at home this year. And as bad as Arizona’s defense is, UCLA’s is worse.
So I expect this to be similar to a lot of other games this season — it will be high-scoring and close, but the Wildcats will find a way to win.
Christopher Boan — Arizona wins 76-73
Don’t see how the Bruins, who rank 139th in defensive efficiency, according to stat guru Ken Pomeroy, can stop Deandre Ayton, Allonzo Trier and company.
Also, I don’t see the Wildcats losing two straight games, especially after the bad luck that struck them down against Washington. Expect Ayton to go for 20 and 15, and Trier to nail a late 3 to help Arizona hang on.
Scott Moran — Arizona wins 89-84
Make no mistake, this will be a high-scoring and exciting game. Neither team can stop anything on defense, and both are quite the offensive juggernauts. I think Arizona will win for three main reasons: they’re playing in McKale, they just lost, and UCLA’s defense is even worse than Arizona’s.
Either way, this should be one of the most exciting games of the Pac-12 season, as Arizona is still jostling for a higher NCAA Tournament seed and UCLA is fighting for a tournament bid. Add those stakes to an already likely high-flying game and this is a can’t miss for any basketball fan.
Matt Sheeley — Arizona wins 90-81
UCLA is one of the few teams that can match the Wildcats’ firepower on offense. Ironically, their defense is as bad or worse.
Like the other guys, I lean Arizona here thanks to their homecourt advantage, even though UCLA was the last road team to come in to McKale and get a win. Watch for Allonzo Trier in this one. In last year’s meeting with a superior Bruins team, Trier went off for 28 points. He could very well top that on Thursday night.