Arizona Wildcats vs Utah Utes Preview and Prediction

#9 Arizona (22-6, 10-5) at #22 Utah (22-7, 11-5)
When: Saturday, February 27th 2016
Where: Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 2:00 ET | TV: ESPN

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Two teams chasing the Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 standings meet Saturday in Salt Lake City as the Utah Utes host the Arizona Wildcats. Utah comes in winning five-straight after their 81-46 rout of Arizona State on Monday to get within a half a game of the Ducks with a week left in the regular season. Utah is 14-1 at home this season with the only loss coming against Oregon on January 14th 77-59. The Utes hit 16 three-pointers against the Sun Devils and are shooting 42.9% from beyond the arc during their five-game win streak. the inside game is led by 7-footer Jakob Poeltl, who leads the team with averages of 17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds a game despite seeing his double-digit point streak end at 11 games Monday with his seven points. Forwards Jordan Loveridge (11.9 points) and Kyle Kuzma (11.3) also are averaging double-figures for the Utes. Utah leads the conference and is 7th in the country in field-goal percentage (49.5) and leads the Pac-12 in assist/turnover ratio (+1.3). Utah will close the regular season at home against Colorado on March 5th.


Speaking of Colorado, the Buffaloes ended the Wildcats seven-game winning streak on Wednesday and prevented Arizona from tying the Ducks in the Pac-12 standings. Center Kaleb Tarczewski is averaging 11 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots over his last six games, including seven boards and a career-high-matching five blocks against Colorado. The Wildcats’ five Pac-12 losses have been by a combined 17 points, and they haven’t suffered a double-digit defeat since February of 2013 – a span which covers 17 losses. Forward Ryan Anderson had 19 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday for his 14th double-double of the season. Anderson is averaging 16.0 points and 10.2 rebounds a game this season. Guards Allonzo Trier (14.8 points) and Gabe York (14.5) also are averaging double figures for Arizona. The Wildcats lead the conference in scoring margin (+13.4) and rebounding differential (+11). Arizona has taken the last 12 meetings with Utah and this will be their only regular season meeting this year.

Arizona is just 5-4 on the road this season, but they keep every game close. Utah is on a roll, but I can’t see the Wildcats losing two in a row. I’ll take the points and call for an Arizona win.

Pick: Arizona +3