Pac 12 Semifinals Handicapping Selections: Colorado Buffaloes vs #4 Arizona Wildcats

2014 Pac 12 Tournament – Semifinals
MGM Grand Arena – Las Vegas, Nevada

#5 Colorado Buffaloes vs #1 Arizona Wildcats
Friday, March 14, 2014, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: Pac 12 Network
Opening Line: Arizona -11
Current Line: Arizona -11 1/2
Opening Total: 127 1/2
Current Total: 129 1/2
Opening Money Line: Arizona -725 / Colorado +525
Current Money Line: Arizona -850 / Colorado +595

Arizona is an 11.5 point favorite over Colorado in the Pac 12 semifinals Friday night in Las Vegas.
Arizona is an 11.5 point favorite over Colorado in the Pac 12 semifinals Friday night in Las Vegas.

The 29-3 Arizona Wildcats will likely be one of the four #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats won the Pac 12 regular season title outright with a 15-3 record. Arizona advanced to the semifinals of the the Pac 12 tournament in Las Vegas with Thursday’s 71-39 demolition of 38 seed Utah in the quarterfinals.

Next up for the Wildcats is a semifinal clash with the Colorado Buffaloes. Colorado is 23-10 overall and was part of a five way tie for third in the Pac 12 with a 10-8 record. Colorado appears to be safely in the NCAA field, but a win over Arizona should lock it up.  The  Buffaloes were the 5 seed because of the tie-breaker. Colorado beat #12 seed USC 59-56 in the first round Wednesday, and beat #4 seed California by the identical 59-56 score in the quarterfinals. The winner of Arizona and Colorado will face the winner of #2 seed UCLA and #6 seed Stanford in Saturday’s championship game.

Colorado leads the series against Arizona 11-10, but the Wildcats have won 3 straight games in the series. Arizona won both meetings this season 69-57 in Tucson January 23 and 88-61 in Boulder February 22. These two teams have played in the Pac 12 Championship game the last two seasons, with Colorado winning in 2012 and Arizona claiming the title in 2013.

Colorado is coached by Tad Boyle. The team was ranked in the top 15 before their leading scorer guard Spencer Dinwiddie tore his ACL. The Buffaloes have losses to Baylor in Dallas and Oklahoma State in Las Vegas, at Washington, Arizona twice, Arizona State, UCLA twice, Utah, and at California. The Buffaloes have key wins over Wyoming, Arkansas State, UC-Santa Barbara, Harvard, at Colorado State, at Air Force, Kansas, Georgia, Oregon State, Oregon, Washington State twice, Washington, USC twice, Utah, Arizona State and at Stanford.  Colorado is 18-14 ATS and the total is 15-16 this season.

Colorado is outscoring teams 72-68 this season. The Buffaloes are shooting 44.1% from the field and 31.7% from 3 point range. Colorado is # out of 351 teams in three point shooting. The Buffaloes make 71.8% of their free throws. Colorado opponents are shooting 42.8% from the field and 35.8% from 3 point range. Colorado is #261 in three point defense The Buffaloes are averaging 37.9 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.8 per game. Colorado is in the top 60 nationally in both categories. The Buffaloes average 12.3 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 6.3 steals and 3.9 blocks per game. Opponents average 14.8 assists, 11.9 turnovers, 7.3 assists, and 3.2 blocks per game.

Dinwiddie averaged 14.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game before the injury. Forward Josh Scott averages 14.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.  Guard Askia Booker averages 14 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.   Forward Xavier Johnson averages 11.7 points and 6 rebounds per game. Forward Wesley Gordon averages 6.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. Guard Jaron Hopkins averages 5.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Dustin Thomas and Xavier Talton will also get significant minutes.

Arizona is coached by Sean Miller. Arizona has losses at California,  Arizona State and Oregon. The Wildcats have key wins over Cal Poly, Long Beach State, at San Diego State, Rhode Island, Drexel and Duke in the pre-season NIT in New York City, Texas Tech, UNLV, New Mexico State, at Michigan, Washington State, Washington, at UCLA and USC, Arizona State, Colorado twice, Utah twice , Cal, Stanford twice, Oregon and Oregon State twice (including 74-69 Wednesday in Corvallis). Arizona is 19-12 ATS and the total is 9-19-2 this season.

Arizona is outscoring teams 74-58 this season. The Wildcats are #5 nationally in points allowed. Arizona is shooting 46.9% from the field and 35.6% from 3 point range. The Wildcats are #54 nationally in field goal percentage.  Arizona makes 66.2% of their free throws and are #292 nationally out of 351 teams in that category. Wildcat opponents are shooting 38.3% from the field and 30.1% from 3 point range. Arizona is #8 in field goal defense and #24 in 3 point defense. The Wildcats average 39.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 26.4. Arizona is #17 in rebounding and #6 nationally in rebounds allowed. The Wildcats average 15.2 assists, 10.6 turnovers, 5.7 steals and 4.4 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.2 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 4.6 steals and 3.2 blocks per game.

Guard Nick Johnson averages 16 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Forward Aaron Gordon averages 12.2 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. Both Johnson and Gordon are on the Wooden and Naismith Awards semifinal list. Forward Brandon Ashley averaged 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1 assist per game. He broke his foot in the Cal loss and is gone for the season. Center Kaleb Tarczewski averages 10.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1 block per game. Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson averages 8.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Guard T.J. McConnell averages 8.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.9 steals per game. Guard Gabe York averages 6.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

Colorado is 2-5 ATS after a straight up win.

Arizona is 5-1 ATS after allowing less than 50 points, and in neutral site games. 5-2 overall, in Pac 12 games, and against teams with winning records, 13-6 after a cover, and 2-5 in Friday games.

The last time these teams played about a month ago, Arizona ran all over Colorado in a 27 point rout in Boulder. Fatigue could be a factor for Colorado having to play their third game in three nights. I think Colorado hangs around for awhile but Arizona pulls away late.

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