After a Bay Area sweep, can Arizona run the table?
Following a narrow home loss to Washington on Jan. 28, the Wildcats flew up to the Bay Area and blew up. First, a four-point win over Cal on Thursday for the Bears’ first home loss of the season. Then, Arizona went into Maples Pavilion and forced Stanford into its worst shooting game of the season (25.4 percent) in a 56-43 triumph.
The Wildcats (16-8, 7-4 in the Pac-12) are confident and hitting their stride, with only three above them in the Pac-12 standings. But running the table, even in a conference of parity and home courts and road splits, is no easy feat.
Arizona has seven regular season games left; Sean Miller’s club has yet to win more than four in a row this season. Still, the squad’s next three — and last three — are certainly all winnable. A home stand this week against Colorado (can’t win on the road) and Utah (can’t win) should be a sweep. The following Thursday takes the Wildcats to Pullman to face an inconsistent Washington State squad. Arizona’s last three are at home against the LA schools and at Arizona State. In the middle, though, is a trip to Seattle to face the first-place Huskies at what will surely be a raucous Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The Wildcats will be lucky to win six of their next seven, though five is probably more realistic. However, behind its interchangeable bench and athletic, balanced roster, Arizona might be a favorite in the Pac-12 Tournament. The team doesn’t have a superstar — anybody can hurt you on any given night, be it Kyle Fogg’s shooting, Solomon Hill’s post play or Jesse Perry’s hustle. If Arizona doesn’t run the table, a title at Staples Center will be the only way for the ‘Cats to go dancing.
— Jonathan Kuperberg
Will Colorado ever lose at home or win away from it?
Colorado has easily one of the worst home-road split records in the country, with records as unequal as the country’s income gap.
The Buffaloes (18-7, 8-3) have lost just one game at home this season — a seven-point loss to ACC stalwart Maryland back in November. The Buffs are still undefeated at the Coors Events Center in the Pac-12. But as soon as they leave Boulder, they fall apart. Colorado is 1-3 on the road in the conference. That one win was against USC — a 6-18 squad that ranks among the worst in the nation in every offensive category — so it’s iffy if the 24-point win should even count.
The odds of the Buffaloes not losing another home game is slim. It’s even more unlikely the squad won’t win another game away from home too. A trip to Tucson to face the red-hot Wildcats will probably result in another road loss, but a win in Tempe against Arizona State is surely a possibility. As is a rematch against Utah in Salt Lake City; Colorado won the teams’ first matchup by 40 points. The Buffs only have two home games left, and a sweep won’t be an easy task against Cal and Stanford. Colorado lost to both Bay Area squads last month.
Forward Andre Roberson is a relentless rebounder, averaging 11.2 boards a game, good for fifth in the country. And the squad’s team defense is overlooked but solid. The Buffs just don’t have any offensive firepower. They have proven that they are just good enough to beat mediocre teams at home. The next few weeks will show if they can beat poor teams on the road.
— Jonathan Kuperberg