TV Schedule: Saturday, Dec. 5, 3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Arena: McCarthy Athletic Center, Spokane, WA
Line: Gonzaga (-7.5)
The No. 16 Arizona Wildcats travel to Spokane, Washington, to attempt to upset the No. 13 Gonzaga Bulldogs. They are two talented teams that we could see face off in March in the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight. Both teams should go to the 2016 NCAA tournament as a relatively high seed, meaning that we should get something special on Saturday afternoon on ESPN.
The Bulldogs fell to the Texas A&M Aggies a few games ago, but have rebounded with two strong wins over the No. 18 Connecticut Huskies and Washington State Cougars. Their narrow road win over the Cougars does not seem all that impressive on paper, but the Washington State’s guards outplayed Gonzaga’s guards, proving that this team can win behind the offense of Kyle Wiltjer and Josh Perkins alone when necessary.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, have gone through a bit of a rough patch due to an injury to Kaleb Tarczewski. Arizona has won two of their last three games, struggling in an overtime win against the Santa Clara Broncos and hanging on to beat the Boise State Broncos. However, a win over Gonzaga on the road could prove to this team that they can succeed without Tarczewski and give them a much-needed momentum boost.
The key difference between these two teams is that Gonzaga has shown the ability to close out and win close games against decent opposition, whereas Arizona has yet to show whether or not they are capable of doing the same thing. This will be an intense matchup between two highly talented teams, but I’m giving this one to the Bulldogs due to the game being at home and Wiltjer’s increasingly impressive performances.
Prediction: Gonzaga 72, Arizona 68