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This is an upset favorite of many, but Arizona still sits as -4.5 favorites which doesn't exactly scream upset. Another factor that doesn't show upset is that Belmont is a small team that could easily have problems with the bigger Wildcats.
The Bruins have an experienced squad led by two senior guards that can fill it up. Ian Clark is having a great final season with Belmont as his numbers have gone up across the charts. He's shooting a ridiculous 54 percent from the field to go with 46 percent from behind the arc. These aren't just layups he's making either; half of Clark's made shots come from three-point range (3.1 per game). He'll likely have to face Nick Johnson which should be a good battle. Kerron Johnson is less of a shooter at point, but that's why he averages close to five assists per game. Some may doubt his shot, but you can't forget his game-winner pull up in the MVC Championship game over Murray State. Arizona's leading scorer, Mark Lyons, will likely get the task of defending him which should be another heated battle.
That's about where the similar matchups end. At the three-spot, the more athletic Kevin Parrom will get the task of J.J. Mann who's more physical and has a sweet stroke. The big question is what Belmont does with 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski. Expect the Wildcats to feed him the ball early and often because Belmont's big guys register in at 6-7. They have a 6-foot-11 player of their own in Chad Lang, but he rarely plays.
The thing with the Bruins is that a lot of their guys can shoot and Arizona definitely doesn't want to bring Tarczewski out to defend on the three-point line. Unfortunately for Belmont, it's not just Tarczewski in the post they have to worry about. Freshmen Grant Jarrett and Brandon Ashley have both been getting solid minutes lately. The two can provide a spark off the bench and crash the boards as more athletic big men. Of course, it's hard not to mention do-it-all Solomon Hill who can be the difference maker in this game as the Bruins will have trouble with him on the defensive end.
Belmont has had problems with bigger schools this year like in a 29-point loss at Kansas which is worrisome. On the other hand, they beat Stanford on the road which isn't easy to do. Arizona has had an up-and-down season after starting 14-0. They couldn't seem to crack UCLA who they lost to three times which ended up costing them the Pac-12 regular season and tournament. Against a team similar to Belmont in California, the Wildcats actually lost at home to the Golden Bears. Cal is led by two playmakers in the back court that are comparable to Clark and Johnson. Given that game, there is some hope for the Bruins to pull off an upset.
Let's just say it won't be easy as the Wildcats are a team that did beat Florida, Miami (FL) and San Diego State in non-conference play. This game should be close, but Arizona is favorites for a reason and should be able to win this game down low and on the glass.
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