by Greg Dempson
As the PAC-12 tournament was winding down and before the Wildcats played the Bruins, I was of the belief that UCLA would win, such was not the case as Arizona at +2.5 won, (86-75) and they advanced to the championship game and played the Oregon Ducks.
The “Net” result was a Wildcats 2 point underdog win, (83-80.) Those tournament victories so impressed the committee that Arizona was awarded a #2 seed in the Western Region. NCAA Tournament selection committee Mark Hollis said Arizona had sat in the middle of the No. 3 seed line, and not in the West Region entering the week but they moved all the way to the #6 overall spot when it beat Colorado, UCLA and Oregon to win the Pac-12 title.
Arizona has an easier path to the West finals than Gonzaga as the Wildcats, (after dispatching of the #16 seed – North Dakota,) must then defeat the VCU/St. Mary’s winner, the victor of the Florida State/FGCU contest then follow that up with wins vs. Maryland or Xavier.
The way Arizona is playing now their path is easier than Gonzaga’s as the Bulldogs have to hurdle tougher foes like Notre Dame and West Virginia and perhaps Vanderbilt.
That Was Then, This is Now
· On December 3, at a neutral site game in Los Angeles, Gonzaga defeated Arizona, (69-62,) but the Wildcats were without their leading scorer Allonzo Trier in that game plus their freshmen were “green” at that early juncture of the season and they’ve jelled since that meeting.
· All of Arizona’s loses were vs. teams that ranked in the RPI’s top 16 and by playing in the West, it’s time zone friendly, (unlike last years’ tournament when they traveled east and were defeated when playing Wichita State in the first round.)
· If you select Arizona to win the East/West at +515 obviously the payout is greater but not high enough vs. the risk factor as Arizona could face either Duke or Villanova.
March Madness Futures Pick
· If you decide to follow my lead, I strongly suggest you shop around as these numbers do fluctuate from book to book.
· I’ve made an investment on Arizona to win the West at +205, (the Wildcats are a bigger payout than the +185 offered if you pick Gonzaga.)