No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 7 Saint Mary’s Preview
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
When: Saturday, March 18, 7:45 PM ET
Line: Arizona Wildcats (-5) vs. Saint Mary’s Gaels (+5); total: 132.0 – view all NCAAB lines
TV Broadcast: CBS
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Betting on the Arizona Wildcats (-5)
Continuing to ravage their opposition are the Arizona Wildcats, who beat the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in Thursday’s first-round contest of the NCAA Tournament with a final score of 100-82. It was only the third time in school history that the Wildcats scored a hundred or more points in the Big Dance.
A potent combination of youth and experience was displayed by Arizona during the game. Sophomore standout Alonzo Trier scored 18 points and went 9-of-10 from the charity stripe, and junior center Dusan Ristic tallied 12 points and six rebounds. However, freshmen Lauri Markkanen and Rawle Alkins were the real heroes of the game. Both first-years players scored 20 points apiece, with Alkins going a perfect 8-for-8 from the field.
In general, Arizona hasn’t lost a step since its dominant run towards the Pac-12 title a week back. The team shot a superb 58.1 percent from the floor on Thursday and also out-rebounded the Fighting Hawks, 40-31.
We strongly believe that the Wildcats will not finally find its match in the Gaels this Saturday. Of their four losses this entire season, only one of them came at the hands of a team not ranked in the AP’s top 15. That loss was to the East Region’s No. 4 seed Butler, who is still very much alive in the tournament and only defeated Arizona by four points back in November 27.
Betting on the Saint Mary’s Gaels (+5)
The Saint Mary’s Gaels’ fantastic season reach another high point with their 85-77 victory over the VCU Rams on Thursday.
Five Saint Mary’s players scored in double figures during that game, with junior center Jock Landale busting out for 18 points and 13 rebounds. Meanwhile, fellow upperclassmen Joe Rahon and Calvin Hermanson scored 16 points apiece as well, with the two going a combined 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
As appealing as those numbers are for the Gaels, there are still some concerns that they need to address. They were slowed down by constant trips to the free-throw line, as the Rams’ hacking ways helped them stay competitive in the game. Saint Mary’s just made 29 of its 39 free throws, with 29 of those attempts all coming in the second half of Thursday’s contest.
We’re certain that the Wildcats have taken note of this statistic heading into Saturday’s showdown, whereas we’re not too sure as for what head coach Randy Bennett has come up in hopes of upending the Pac-12 champs. Bennett and his Gaels could very well face a similar fate against a true title contender like with their results from earlier in their campaign.
Three of the Gaels’ four losses this season were at the hands of mighty Gonzaga, which plays a fast-paced, athletic style of basketball similar to that of Arizona’s. The Zags, by the way, won those three games by an average of 17 points.
The Wildcats (-5) remain on the prowl in the Big Dance with a sound 87-78 victory.
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