TV Schedule: Saturday, Dec. 19, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Arena: McKale Center, Tucson, AZ
Line: Arizona (-10)
At 8-3, the UNLV Rebels have been one of the surprise teams in college basketball, already winning non-conference matchups with the Indiana Hoosiers and Oregon Ducks. Always one of the more talented teams on paper, the Rebels face their biggest task yet as they travel to Tucson, Arizona, to face off with the No. 13 Arizona Wildcats.
Arizona has absolutely dominated their opponents over the last two games, winning by a combined score of 190-89. This is great news for the team and fans alike, because the Wildcats, at times, have struggled at times offensively this season. Since their narrow loss to Kris Dunn and the Providence Friars, the Wildcats have won five straight games, scored at least 80 in three of them and do not look like they’re slowing down anytime soon.
That being said, these are two extremely similar teams. Both struggle a bit on offense, but boast fantastic defenses. The Wildcats, however, are the far superior team in terms of talent and in comparing what they have already accomplished this season. Expect this game to be a defensive battle in which the team that gets to 60 points first wins.
I like Arizona in this one at home, despite it being a much closer game than many expect. The Wildcats being 10-point favorites seems a little much, but I think this is the matchup in which Allonzo Trier gets his third 20-point game of the season.
No matter what happens in this game, UNLV remains in prime position to make the 2016 NCAA tournament and compete for the Mountain West Conference regular season title. Expect this team to get better as the season heads towards closer to March, where their loss to Arizona will not look bad at all.
Prediction: Arizona 65, UNLV 58