The No. 16 Arizona Wildcats (10-2) will close out the non-conference season on Saturday in San Francisco against the St. John’s Red Storm (10-2).
Tip-off at the Chase Center is set for 8 p.m. MST on ESPN2. KenPom projects Arizona will win 82-72 with an 81 percent win probability.
Here is what we think will happen. Be sure to leave your score prediction in the comment section below. (Also be sure to check out our game preview here.)
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 83-76
This is the kind of matchup that is going to play right into Arizona’s strengths but also its weaknesses. St. John’s will want to run with the Wildcats, and if it can’t force turnovers—Arizona is very good at taking care of the ball when it doesn’t commit offensive fouls—it doesn’t have the ability to make stops in transition. But the Red Storm are also great rebounders, so if Arizona shoots like it did against Baylor or Gonzaga there aren’t going to be very many second chances. With the tempo expected to be fast it may come down to the free throw line, where Arizona should have a considerable edge since St. John’s has several key players shooting below 70 percent.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 79-65
Coming off their second loss in three games, Arizona gets a St. John’s team that has a good record but nary a great win. You could say the same for the Wildcats, I guess, but the eye test shows Sean Miller’s club is one of the most talented in the country. On paper this looks like a high-scoring affair, which you’d think will play into Arizona’s hands. While I expect Arizona to shoot the ball better than it has in the two losses, I wouldn’t be shocked if the defense takes a step forward in the Bay Area.
Christian Mortensen — Arizona wins 81-71
I’m picking Arizona to win this game, simply because I don’t think the Wildcats will shoot as poorly as they did in their two losses to Baylor and Gonzaga.
I’m expecting a better offensive performance from the Cats on Saturday night in the Chase Center, and while I think that St. John’s is a good squad whose fast paced tempo — both on offense and defense — will present a unique challenge for this UA team right before the start of conference play, I just see Arizona having too much talent for the Johnnies to handle. Particularly if St. John’s leading scorer Mustapha Heron (ankle) doesn’t play.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 82-73
It is easy to see how Arizona can lose this game—St. John’s is a really good offensive rebounding team and forces a lot of turnovers. If it can get a sizable edge in either category, this game will go down to the wire.
But if Arizona can put together a decent effort on the glass and take care of the ball, St. John’s won’t have the firepower to keep pace with the Wildcats, especially if Heron is out, but I expect him to play because all injured players seem to recover in time to play Arizona.
The thing you really want to see is Nico Mannion recapture his shooting stroke. Arizona needs him playing with confidence when Pac-12 play begins.