Cal-State Northridge vs. Arizona
Time: Sun 7 PM CST
Spread: ARI -26.5
Betting Odds courtesy of Bovada
Last year the Arizona Wildcats finished 33-5 with a 15-3 record in Pac-12 play, and its season ended with a 64-63 loss to Wisconsin in the regional semis. The Cats have made the Elite 8 twice in the last five seasons. Anything less than a Final Four appearance would be a huge disappointment for ‘Zona this season.
Tonight will hardly be a test against Cal State Northridge, with the Wildcats favored by 26.5 points in college basketball odds given by Bovada.
Arizona, though, lost both Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson to the NBA. But the team remains very strong with a good group of returning players and some great freshman.
Three of the recruits expected to be big impact players are Stanley Johnson, Kadeem Allen and international big man Dusan Ristic. Johnson was the MVP of the U-18 FIBA championships and could be one of the best freshman this season.
Johnson has a wealth of playmaking ability though, too, after playing point guard his senior year in high school. T.J. McConnell will run the point, having come as a transfer from Duquesne. He’s a very good ball distributor, but with Johnson’s ability to make plays, McConnell will be able to play more off the ball this season.
The starting lineup will also feature seven-footer Kaleb Tarcewski in the middle. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was so good as a freshman, Miller feared he may be a one-and-done, but he’s back and goes to the rim as hard as anyone in NCAA.
Cal State Northridge finished 17-18 was a surprise team with rookie coach Reggie Theus. These led the Matadors to a 7-9 record in the Big West, and CSN returns Steven Maxwell (17.5 points per game) and Stephan Hicks (17.2). Landon Drw and Tre Hale-Emerson both return as well.
The Matadors hit 79.1 percent from the line last season, the best mark in the NCAA. 6’10” Seton Hall transfer Kevin Johnson and St. Johns transfer Amir Garrett will be high impact players as well this season. Devote Elliot, a transfer from Nevada, will also be in the mix.