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At 20-0, the season is only going to get harder for Arizona, especially on the road. While no one else in the Pac-12 is ranked, it's still a tough conference to play in and no one will be laying down to give the Wildcats a free win on their home court. After three straight home games, 'Zona finishes the regular season with eight on the road and only four at home, let the fun begin.
Stanford is one of many Pac-12 teams fighting for those final few spots in the NCAA Tournament. With an RPI of 51, they're in a nice position at the moment, but a win over Arizona could be the final star needed to boost that résumé. The Cardinal already have road wins at Connecticut and Oregon, but neither one of those teams is ranked right now. They are coming off a road overtime win at USC while the Wildcats are coming off two non-covering home games.
The Cardinal will be an interesting matchup for the Wildcats, but as already seen in this team's six losses, they obviously aren't on the same level.
One of the main problems opponents have when dealing with Arizona is its front court trio of Kaleb Tarczewski, Aaron Gordon and Brandon Ashley, all measuring at least 6-8. The good news for Stanford is that it also has an above average squad in height with four players at 6-7 or above. At 6-10, Dwight Powell is the most effective of the bunch, who is their second leading scorer (14.3 PPG) and rebounder (7.8 RPG), and top assister (3.9 APG). He'll likely be matched with Wooden candidate, freshman Aaron Gordon. The 6-7 Josh Huestis will get the task of Brandon Ashley. Both are similar players and are able to shoot from distance. Even at center, Stefan Nastic matches up well with Tarczewski.
In the back court, Chasson Randle is one of the top scorers in the conference getting 19.1 points per game and he will probably end up switching on Arizona's duo of Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell. Johnson is the pure scorer of Arizona with 16.7 points per game, while McConnell runs the offense and averages six assists per contest. Stanford's final starter is Anthony Brown (13.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG) who will try and use his size (6-6) to disrupt Johnson's play.
The big difference in this game could end up being Arizona's bench of Gabe York and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Both are effective players and get close to 20 minutes per game and would probably be starters on a lot of other teams. Stanford doesn't really have a threat coming off the bench, which could be the difference in a contest like this.
Arizona is coming off a subpar performance and will have to step it up in this road game to get another win. If the Cardinal want to stay close and have a chance at the end, Randle is going to have to have a great game. He'll need to get to the free throw line as usual, but also find his shot. In their last loss to UCLA, Randle was just 3-of-16 from the field and was one of the main reasons they lost by 17 points. Stanford actually has a size advantage in the back court and could use that to their advantage and maybe get the Wildcats into foul trouble early.
Can Arizona finish undefeated? Maybe, but they can't look too far ahead past teams like Stanford.
Predicted Score - Arizona 77 Stanford 64
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