Arizona Wildcats vs. Indiana Hoosiers
Line: Arizona -2
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
When: Saturday, 12/10 at 7:30 p.m. ET
A pair of college basketball powerhouses will meet for the first time ever when No. 10 Arizona faces No. 14 Indiana in the Las Vegas Clash on Saturday night.
This non-conference showdown pits one of college basketball’s top offensive teams against one of the best defensive squads in the country. Arizona comes into this game at No. 2 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency rating, while Indiana is No. 11 on the defensive end.
“You want to build a schedule that helps develop your team,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “Part of developing your team is building confidence and challenging your team. That’s why you want to play in matchups like this.”
Oddsmakers do not see much difference between these teams, opening the spread as a pick’em on Friday afternoon. By Saturday afternoon, most spots had Arizona favored by two points. The total opened at 158.5, which is 8.5 points more than the highest total in an Indiana game this season. Arizona has gone ‘over’ in 12 of its last 17 games, leading the country in effective field goal percentage (61.2) and playing at the third-fastest tempo in college hoops.
Indiana is not opposed to getting out in transition either, ranked No. 36 in tempo. The Hoosiers also have the fifth-best effective field goal percentage (57.9) out of 363 Division I teams, but they have still gone ‘under’ in four of their last six games due to their elite defense.
Arizona bounced back from its first loss of the season, an 81-66 final at Utah, with an 81-68 win over California on Sunday. The Wildcats have scored at least 81 points in all seven of their wins this season, including victories over then-No. 17 San Diego State and then-No. 10 Creighton.
They are led by junior forward Azuolas Tubelis, who is averaging 20.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Junior center Oumar Ballo, a 7-footer, is scoring 19.1 points and grabbing 9.3 boards.
The Wildcats will need Tubelis and Ballo to aid in slowing down Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, whose return for a fourth collegiate season made the Hoosiers the preseason favorite in the Big Ten. Jackson-Davis had a triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over Nebraska on Wednesday.
“This solidifies why I came back,” Jackson-Davis said following the win over the Cornhuskers. “I came back to do big things, not only individually, but team-wise. Our team has high aspirations. I want to play my hardest and play for my teammates.”
He is averaging 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds, combining with fifth-year senior Race Thompson to create an experienced lineup. The Hoosiers are shooting 59.8% on 2-pointers, which ranks seventh in the country.
Arizona leads the country in field goal percentage, but it has shot just 8 of 48 from 3-point range in the past two games. Star guard Kerr Kriisa has missed all nine of his tries from downtown during that stretch, although he is still shooting 40.9% from the perimeter this season.
Kriisa will be matching up with Indiana guard Xavier Johnson, who is averaging 10.9 points per game. Five-star freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino has missed the last two games with a back injury but could return for the Hoosiers on Saturday night.
Indiana has gone 11-3-1 ATS in its last 15 games, while Arizona has only covered once in its last seven games. The Wildcats are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against Big Ten opponents, though.
The pick: Indiana +2
I think I’d be on Indiana in this matchup in almost any scenario due to how high I am on Jackson-Davis, but Arizona’s poor outside shooting form makes it an even easier pick. The Wildcats have gone ice-cold from downtown in their last two games, and this does not seem like the spot to get hot again. They are playing in an unfamiliar neutral-site arena against one of the top defensive teams in the country. Jackson-Davis lacks the height that Arizona possesses, but he has more speed and skill, which will allow him to open up the Wildcats defense. The Hoosiers have been undervalued and the Wildcats have been overvalued in the betting market, so I’m happy to roll with Indiana in what should be an outstanding game.