MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (6-3)
at ARIZONA WILDCATS (9-0)
McKale Center - Tucson, Arizona
Tip-off: Saturday, 5:15 p.m.
Line: Arizona -11.5, Total: 128
No. 3 Arizona looks to continue its strong start to the season, as the Wildcats take on a struggling Michigan team in Tucson on Saturday.
Arizona (3-4 ATS, 4-3 UNDER) has been very good this season, already defeating two Top 25 teams, San Diego State and Gonzaga. These two teams played last season, with the Wildcats stealing a 72-70 victory in Michigan. Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski combined for 32 points and 15 rebounds in the game. Those two helped Arizona outrebound the Wolverines, 37-24, which was the difference in the game. Michigan guard Caris LeVert scored 15 points in the loss. Michigan enters this game really struggling, as the Wolverines (2-5 ATS, 4-2 UNDER) have two consecutive losses to N.J.I.T and Eastern Michigan. The Wolverines lost a lot of talent from last seasonís team, and the team is struggling to find its true identity. Michigan has not lost at least three consecutive games since losing six consecutive January 5-22, in 2011.
Can Michigan snap out of its funk on Saturday? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks. The experts have begun the 2014-15 season with a bang, posting a collective 57% ATS mark (63-47) in Best Bets. The five experts are led by StatFox Gary's stellar 71% ATS mark (15-6), while StatFox Brian is 64% ATS (14-8) and StatFox Zach is 59% ATS (13-9) to open the season.
The Wolverines have had its struggles on the offensive end this season, ranking 133rd in scoring (70.7 PPG), 144th in shooting (44.4 % from the field), 150th in assists (13.2 APG) and 278th in rebounding (32.1 RPG). While the team has had a lot of struggles on the offensive end of the court, guard Caris LeVert (17.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 49 % from threes) has played very well this season. The 6-foot-7 junior guard has the ability to score in many different ways, and has developed a nice mid-range jumper. He was a very good role player on the team last year, but has stepped up and filled the void left by scorers Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III. Zak Irvin (15.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 37 % from threes) and Derrick Walton Jr. (12.1 PPG 4.9 RPG and 3.1 APG) have formed one of the better backcourts in the conference. The frontcourt is led by Ricky Doyle (6.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 71 % from the field), but the freshman has really struggled in the past two games (3 PPG and 2.5 RPG). The backcourt is going to have to play very good in this game, as the Wildcats will be tough to stop down low.
Arizona has been very good on offense as well, ranking 17th in shooting (50 % from the field), 54th in scoring (76 PPG) and 73rd in assists (14.8 APG). Leading the way for the Wildcats is freshman Stanley Johnson (13.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 39 % from threes). It took him a few games to get accustomed to Division I college basketball, but Johnson has been great recently, reaching double-figures the past five games. At 6-foot-7, 245 pounds, Johnson is a matchup nightmare, as he is too big for guards, and too quick for opposing post players. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (12.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 59 % from the field) is another guy who presents a very difficult matchup for defenses. The Wildcats do a great job of finding the mismatch for these two, and they exploit it on the block. Coach Sean Miller has one of the deeper teams in college basketball. Guys like Brandon Ashley (11.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 52 % from the field) and Kaleb Tarczewski (8.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 61 % from the field) are great complementary players, who are both capable of having big nights. The leader on the team is point guard T.J. McConnell (8.0 PPG, 5.6 APG and 4.0 RPG), who is one of the true pass-first point guards in college basketball. He does a great job of putting his teammates in the best situation to score, especially when they get out and run. If there is one guy capable of having a big game from the 3-point line, it is Gabe York (8.3 PPG, 1.2 APG and 32 % from threes). He does not shoot a great percentage, but he can catch fire from deep at any given moment.