Now 0-4 on the road this season, the Arizona Wildcats continue their trek through the Pac-12 with a two-game swing to the state of Washington. That begins with Thursday night’s tilt against the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle.
Tip off is set for 7 p.m. MT and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2. Head to our basketball section for complete coverage.
Below are our staff predictions:
Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 67-60
If ever there was a time for the UA to have an “easy” road trip, it’s now. And the Washington swing is the closest thing to a sweepable one in the Pac-12 right now, especially with the Huskies looking rudderless in a tie for last place and riding a three-game losing streak. They’ve gone 2-2 at home in league play, including a loss to woeful UCLA, so this is an incredibly vulnerable squad. Yet it’s also one that beat No. 1 Baylor in November—albeit with point guard Quade Green still eligible—and hung with No. 2 Gonzaga in December. The saving grace for Arizona may be that UW no longer exclusively uses Sean Miller’s kryptonite, the zone defense.
Ronnie Stoffle — Washington wins 67-62
If the Wildcats were playing just about any other team, I would trust that they would treat this as a perfect bounce-back opportunity. However, Washington’s zone defense is going to give Arizona serious trouble. The Huskies are also due for a win which makes me bearish on Arizona’s chances in the first leg of the Washington road trip.
Christian Mortensen — Arizona wins 68-64
While some Arizona fans are already in crisis mode after last weekend’s loss at ASU, I actually think this game provides a better assessment of just how good this UA team is. Losing on the road against your biggest rival happens — but a loss against this Washington team would really feel like a major blow for the Wildcats.
The Huskies have fallen to last place in the Pac-12 and are just 1-5 since sophomore point guard Quade Green was ruled academically ineligible on January 9. They are averaging just 61 points per game without him and while Arizona is obviously reeling in their own way, if there was ever a good time to make a trip to play UW in Seattle, it’s now.
Considering the Wildcats young talent and reliance on three freshmen, I still think this team’s best days are ahead — even with their early season struggles away from McKale.
To show that’s true, however, they need to start playing with the confidence and the grit to hold on and win road games like this one.
I’m going to pick them to do just that on Thursday night — albeit mostly because of how poor Washington has been lately.
Matthew Rein — Washington wins 71-70
This is an absolute true toss-up to me. UW has not lived up to their potential this year. After what was a promising season opening win against Baylor, has now turned to disappointment. With losses in seven of their last nine, including losses to Cal, UCLA, and Utah, the Huskies look like they will miss March altogether.
The problem is that we have absolutely no clue which Arizona team is going to show up Thursday. Will it be the team that throttled Colorado, or the team that gave up a 22 point lead to ASU?
The Huskies on the other hand have genuine NBA talent in Isiah Stewart and Nahziah Carter, but because of the team’s poor play, it’s hard for me to trust UW either.
In the spirit of a true toss-up, I’ll give the slight edge to the Huskies based on home-court.
Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 72-68
So obviously this is a dangerous game for multiple reasons. Washington plays zone, it’s on the road, and the Huskies have two of the best freshmen in the country in Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels.
But UW has really struggled since losing Quade Green, dropping five of its last six and has a home loss to UCLA. It is one of the worst teams in the country at taking care of the ball.
The Huskies, like Arizona, have also continually come up short in close games too, going 1-6 in games decided by six or fewer points. The Wildcats are 1-5.
Arizona will need to take care of the ball and have some of its role players hit 3s against UW’s zone.