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Will the Wildcats advance in the Pac-12 Tournament?

arizona-wildcats-washington-pac-12-tournament-basketball-predictions-score-picks-bracket-time-tv Photo by Chris Coduto/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The fifth-seeded Arizona Wildcats (20-11) open play in the Pac-12 Tournament when they face the 12th-seeded Washington Huskies (15-16) in Wednesday’s first round at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Arizona is coming off a 69-63 home loss to the Huskies in its regular-season finale, its fourth loss in the last five games. The Wildcats, which fell to USC in last year’s first round, are trying to avoid consecutive one-and-done performances in the Pac-12 tourney since 2009-10.

Tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. PT and the game will be shown on the Pac-12 Network.

Below are our staff predictions:

Brian J. Pedersen — Arizona wins 70-69

Arizona is facing the best No. 12 seed in the country, but it already knows that after getting humbled by Washington at home a few days ago. The Wildcats have to use that horrible performance at motivation, learning from their mistakes (turnovers, interior defense) and maximizing what worked in that game (open 3-point shots due to heavy attention on Zeke Nnaji). There's a reason Washington was in last place, not just bad luck, and a reason Arizona has the second-best odds to win this tourney.

Ronnie Stoffle — Washington wins 71-64

A five seed playing a 12 seed is supposed to be an easy opportunity for the five seed to pads the resume with another win. The problem with this instance is Washington isn’t a normal 12 seed.

Although, the Wildcats probably won’t shoot 20 percent in the first half again, the physicality of the Huskies is an issue. It’s an issue because Arizona can’t hang with that. The Wildcats simply don’t operate at that level.

It’s going to be a quick stay in Las Vegas for Arizona.

Adam Green — Arizona wins 75-67

Does it matter that the final 20 minutes of their last meeting, which happened to be on Saturday, was won by the Wildcats? Sure Arizona didn’t win the game, but it seemed like they figured out the Huskies a bit.

If it matters, then you have to like Arizona’s chances on Wednesday. The Huskies were inconsistent enough to finish at the bottom of the conference, and while the Wildcats are as unpredictable as anyone they have rarely looked truly awful this season.

It would be easy to expect a loss — probably safer, too — but I just don’t see it. I expect a motivated team that will come out believing it can beat Washington and will ultimately do exactly that.

Matthew Rein — Arizona wins 73-72

Arizona showed some fight in the second half, especially coming from Dylan Smith, in Saturday’s loss to the Huskies.

Now that we’re hitting rewind for Wednesday’s game, I would think the Wildcats would put on a better effort. UW is still a talented team, but there’s a reason why they’re in last place.

This game, frankly, comes down to fundamentals. Can Arizona rebound the basketball, limit turnovers, and play solid D? Not sure, but I’m betting the Cats do just enough to inch by on Wednesday night.

Christian Mortensen — Washington wins 72-65

I wrote in our round table that if Arizona can beat Washington in the first round, that they can legitimately win the tournament.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, I just don’t see them beating the Huskies right now.

UW is probably the Pac-12’s hottest team and their zone gave the UA fits just days ago.

I’m expecting a repeat Wednesday in Vegas.

Ryan Kelapire — Arizona wins 72-67

I think this game goes opposite of Saturday’s. Arizona will start fast, hungry to avenge the loss, but eventually hit one of those offensive ruts against Washington’s zone that will allow the Huskies to make things interesting in the final minutes.

Until last week Washington had been the worst team in the conference in close games, and I think they will fall back to earth in Las Vegas. Or Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels will stay hot and lead UW to another win. This game, like almost every conference game for Arizona, is a toss up.