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Arizona basketball to face Stanford in Santa Cruz, not Palo Alto, on Saturday

Fort Wayne Mad Ants v Santa Cruz Warriors - 2015 D-League Finals Game Two Photo by Tim Cattera/NBAE via Getty Images

Arizona’s first road game will be more of a neutral site contest.

The Pac-12 announced Monday that the Wildcats will open conference play against the Stanford Cardinal in Santa Cruz on Saturday instead of Maples Pavilion on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto.

Santa Clara County COVID-19 restrictions prevent Stanford from hosting games right now.

Saturday’s tilt will tip off at 6 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 Network and take place at Kaiser Permanente Arena, the home of the Golden State Warriors’ G League franchise.

Constructed in 2012, KPA seats roughly 2,500 people (not that it matters right now).

Santa Cruz is about 40 miles south of the Stanford campus in Palo Alto. So, assuming the Wildcats lodge close to Santa Cruz, they should have an easier time getting to the arena on game day than the Cardinal.

That could make a difference in a game between two of the better teams in the conference. The Cardinal were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12, one spot ahead of Arizona.

So far the Wildcats are 5-0 with five home wins over mid-majors. Stanford, which boasts the No. 7 defense in the country, is 2-2 with wins over Alabama and North Carolina A&T and losses to Indiana and North Carolina.

KenPom gives Stanford a 62 percent chance of winning, but that was before the venue change was announced.

Arizona coach Sean Miller has never lost to Stanford since arriving at Arizona prior to the 2009-10 season, but this will be the strangest matchup yet.