The Arizona Wildcats (9-4) begin Pac-12 play on Thursday at home against the Colorado Buffaloes (9-3) at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports 1.
Arizona is a six-point favorite according to Vegas oddsmakers and basketball analytics website KenPom.com.
Here is what we think will happen. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 73-64
Sometimes you do get a second chance to make a first impression. Arizona didn’t impress during the non-conference portion of its schedule, but then again nobody in the Pac-12 really did outside of ASU (minus that pesky home loss to an Ivy League school). Colorado’s 9-3 record looks good on paper, but take away the 6-0 home record—all against sub-100 KenPom teams—and the Buffaloes didn’t really do much other than show they can rebound fairly well and score at a decent pace.
How the Wildcats deal with Colorado’s work on the boards will dictate how this game goes. So will turnovers, since Arizona has done a good job of minimizing the giveaways—save for a few notable exceptions—while Colorado turned it over 73 times during its last five games.
The schedule lays out well for Arizona to start off fast, getting a jump on the rest of the league, thanks to getting the Mountain schools at home and then the Bay Area teams on the road. Can’t start fast without a win in the first outing, though.
Ronnie Stoffle — Arizona wins 69-64
These two teams are very statistically similar. I’m excited to see how Chase Jeter plays against CU’s big man Lucas Siewert. Also, can Brandon Williams get on track from a shooting perspective?
The Buffs are sitting at nine wins but nothing about their nonconference schedule has been impressive. Sure, winning nine of 12 games is good, but it feels like a flimsy 9-3 record. Arizona hasn’t been spectacular during their nonconference run but they’ve at least flashed higher upside than CU has.
I like the Wildcats simply because they’re at home and they need to win their home games to have a shot at the postseason.
Ezra Amacher — Arizona wins 65-59
Colorado may be the biggest wild card in the Pac-12 this year in the sense that it’s tough to predict where the Buffaloes stand in a watered down league. Colorado’s most impressive non-conference performance came in a blowout win over Air Force, but that isn’t saying much. The Buffaloes later dropped a pair of games in Hawaii to Indiana State and the University of Hawaii. That may be a better indicator of what to expect from Tad Boyle’s group this season.
If Arizona can limit its damage on the glass and shoot the ball relwtinrly well, I think the Wildcats will win this one without too much stress. A conference opening loss to the Buffs would spell trouble for the Wildcats chances against mid tier conference teams and would deliver another dagger to the team’s NCAA Tournament at large hopes.
Zant Reyez — Arizona wins 69-62
Just in case anyone forgot, Arizona and CU is the biggest rivalry in the Pac-12. With that typed, this will be a nice win for the ‘Cats. Like I’ve stated in other predictions and other discussions, UA will have many close games this season. I don’t foresee many—if any—blowouts.
Arizona and CU games are usually competitive games. If the ‘Cats can muster some average defense and shooting, they should get win number one in conference.
I also wanted to know the over/under for how many times The Chainsmokers song “Closer” will be mentioned by fans of each team, and how many times CU fans will tweet “justice for Sabatino Chen.”
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 71-65
The Buffaloes’ offense isn’t anything to fear, but their ability to rebound is. As Brian noted above, how well the Wildcats can stave off Colorado on the glass will determine their fate in this game. Either that or the team that actually makes some 3-pointers.
In the end, I see the Wildcats squeaking out a narrow win in a game that will go down to the wire.