Az Stanford CBB

275
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Arizona

vs.

Stanford

College Basketball

Pick

1/20/18

Almost out of nowhere, this turned into a matchup for first place in the Pac-12. Only two weeks ago, Stanford was 6-8 overall and coming off a home loss against California. Arizona’s expected competition in the Conference started with USC, which moved to Arizona State and is now Stanford. If the Wildcats can win this one on the road, they’ll be in great position to run away with the Pac-12.

Stanford’s rejuvenation hasn’t come out of nowhere. It’s been the result of getting guys healthy with Dorian Pickens and Kezie Okpala finally playing together, two guys that are at more than 30 minutes per Game. That’s been huge for the Cardinal as they swept UCLA and USC, both Washington schools on the road and most recently Arizona State. Beating the Wildcats would cap the run off, although this will arguably be their hardest Game. And it’s not like they’ve ran away from these teams, needing two overtimes to beat UCLA and taking down the Trojans by just one point.

On the other end, Arizona is playing well, but still hasn’t looked as dominant as expected. The Wildcats struggled to dispose of both Oregon State and Oregon in recent home Games and already lost at Colorado a couple weeks ago. With this Game being in Stanford, it should end up coming down to the final minutes.

Stanford has been a much more efficient team on both ends of the floor since getting healthy. Senior guard Dorian Pickens not only gives them a three-point threat, but also size at the guard position. The same can be said for the freshman Okpala, who brings a 6-foot-8 frame to small forward with Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey in front cOurt roles. That size will come in handy against an Arizona team that usually stands taller than everyone else in the conference.

For this season, Arizona’s size starts with freshman DeAndre Ayton, who’s been close to unstoppable on offense and is averaging a double-double. Stanford may have size, but it still probably won’t be enough to stop Ayton from reaching 20 points and grabbing at least 10 boards. The difference may come down to what guys like Pickens and Okpala can do against Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins.

Similar to Stanford and its injuries, Arizona has been much better with Alkins in the lineup. He’s given the Wildcats a third scoring option, as well as a guy that can make up for Trier’s deficiencies on the defensive end. Parker Jackson-Cartwright is Arizona’s defensive specialist, but due to Stanford’s size, may have his hands full against guys like Daejon Davis and Pickens.

The Wildcats have the higher-end talent with Ayton and Trier, but there’s no arguing the talent on Stanford’s roster, now healthy. The team’s leading scorer Reid Travis (20 ppg) hasn’t even been mentioned yet and could prove to be a matchup nightmare whenever Ayton and Dusan Ristic are on the cOurt at the same time. Travis has size, but also stretches the floor as seen when he went 3-of-6 from deep in Wednesday’s win against ASU. Some people may be giving Arizona a pass in this one, but the Cardinal will be ready and could be primed for another upset.

 

Our Pick – Stanford +5.5