Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Even though it’s the Florida Gators who took over the #1 spot in the wire service polls this week, it’s still the Arizona Wildcats who are best in the nation according to the most respected computer ratings. And, this is a big night for the best team in cyberspace, as they try to avenge their only “loss in regulation” thus far against Pac 12 rival California in a game that will be televised nationally by ESPN.
Arizona is 25-2 this season
Arizona lost 60-58 at California
Arizona lost 69-66 at Arizona State in double overtime
That’s how close Arizona is to still being undefeated. It took a virtual buzzer shot by Cal to take them out in Berkeley, then 10 extra minutes for a hated state rival to stun them in hostile territory.
We should also mention that Arizona had to shoot a paltry 32% from the floor at Cal for that game to even be close!
Clearly, revenge will be on the minds of a very talented team. Let’s see if our key indicators suggest revenge “with authority” against a Cal team that’s disappointed since shocking the Wildcats.
California: #50 in Pomeroy, #49 in Sagarin
Arizona: #1 in Pomeroy, #1 in Sagarin
College basketball guru Ken Pomeroy and USA Today computer whiz Jeff Sagarin both agree that Arizona is still best in the land. Not surprising considering what we just discussed. What’s surprising is how little Cal has done as a team capable of beating Arizona. They grade out as a bubble caliber squad right now, barely cracking the top 50 in the most respected computer assessments. Within their last nine games, California has lost twice by double digits to UCLA, and also lost at home by double digits to Stanford. Two of their wins in a 4-5 stretch came against cellar dwellers USC and Washington State (and they also lost to horrible USC!). If not for the win over Arizona, Cal might not be a top 60 team!
Offensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
Surprising that Arizona is that bad…to the degree that a top 35 rating can be considered “bad.” But, we’re talking about the #1 team in the computers. Obviously they’re a defense first team. California can’t be trusted to score when needed, which we’ve seen often in league play.
Defensive Rank (Adjusted for Schedule)
Arizona isn’t just “defense first, they’re “first in defense” according to Pomeroy! He adjusts for strength of schedule and pace factor…and his numbers show nobody’s been better on the most important side of the ball this season. Cal has struggled badly by contending standards, making it a minor miracle Arizona could only hit 32% against them in Berkeley.
Both of these teams are relatively middle-of-the-road, with Cal pushing things a bit more. Not likely to be a factor in this meeting. If Arizona is breathing fire, they’ll win comfortable at any pace. It’s not like the Bears are positioned to disrupt them as a visitor bringing the #73 defense to town…in either a fast or slow game.
Against the Spread
Arizona was given a lot of respect early in the season after scoring some impressive results. They’ve still managed to stay way over the .500 mark ATS for the season even with that respect. This is a very good sign for postseason success….because the team is playing consistently well…and consistently at a level above expectations.
We’d have to say that the evidence in this meeting is suggesting a blowout revenge performance from Arizona. Their loss was an anomaly…and they should be mad about it! If Cal can’t otherwise compete with the likes of Stanford and UCLA…then it’s very hard to see them playing great in Tucson. Handicappers will have to decide if oddsmakers have fully factored that into Wednesday Night’s pointspread or not.
JIM HURLEY has his eye on this game. But, he knows Wednesdays are like Saturdays in terms of the jam-packed college hoops schedule. He only releases the very best plays to his clients. You can purchase the final word Wednesday here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about full season service (through March Madness or through the NBA Playoffs), call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with you tomorrow to run the numbers for Arkansas at #17 Kentucky. Another group of Wildcats! Before the season, many thought Kentucky would be a lot closer to #1 than Arizona. That big TV game with the Hogs will give us a chance to get caught up on what’s going on in the bluegrass state.
Big game previews through the weekend:
Friday: an early look at the huge Saturday ACC game matching #4 Syracuse and #12 Virginia
Saturday: #7 Louisville at #21 Memphis
Sunday: Marquette at #8 Villanova
We’ll touch on as many major powers as we can before the conference tourneys begin…and we’ll kick the intensity up another notch during the bracket barrage. Be sure you’re MAKING THE MOST of MARCH MADNESS with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!