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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wild weekend awaits Pac-12 conference in college basketball

Kyle Hansen

Arizona forward Brandon Ashley (21) goes up for a block in McKale Center during last season, December 2014. Arizona defeated Gonzaga 66-63 in overtime.

Coming off a week of exciting tournaments and upsets all over the board, this year’s college basketball season could not have gotten off to a better start. The Pac-12 Conference will take center stage this weekend as it plays host to some of the top teams in the country in what should be one of the best weekends Pac-12 basketball has to offer.

Kentucky vs. UCLA

On paper, this game might look like an easy victory for Kentucky, but if you’ve seen UCLA play this season, you know their 4-3 record doesn’t tell you anything about this team.

The fact is, the Bruins are a very young, skilled team and are constantly shuffling freshman in and out during games.

That being said, their record is what it is because they constantly turn the ball over on 20 percent of their possessions. That’s not something you want to have going into a game against the top team in the country.

Kentucky has rolled so far this season showing flashes of last years’ team that went undefeated in the regular season. Led by backcourt duo Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis, the Wildcats have won every game this season by double digits.

Expect that statistic to improve to eight straight wins by double digits as UCLA simply will not be able to play a full game with the best team in the land.

Oregon vs. UNLV

No. 15 Oregon is quietly sneaking under the radar as a team that could turn some heads come March.

The Ducks are undefeated and have played some fantastic basketball using skill and speed to better their opponents.

At the helm of that speed attack is freshman guard Tyler Dorsey, who is averaging almost 15 points per game.

Dorsey controls the Ducks’ offense, constantly bringing more pressure and speed to the Ducks’ games. However, their opponent on Friday will be a very underrated UNLV team, whose only loss came against UCLA in the Maui Invitational.

The Rebels ended up winning fifth place and beating a ranked Indiana team in the same tournament.

UNLV left Maui with the confidence that it can beat any team it faces and that’s the mentality it will bring when the Rebels play the Ducks. Look for the Rebels to control the game’s tempo and force Oregon into committing costly mistakes.

Gonzaga vs. Arizona

Both teams will be looking to find their strides after failing to win their respected tournaments over the weekend.

The Wildcats will be without star player Kaleb Tarczewski for some time as he deals with a strained muscle in this foot, putting him out six weeks at most.

The loss will have a major effect on the game as the Wildcats struggled in both games against Providence and Boise State without their senior center.

Arizona will need to spread the floor and get as many players involved in the game as it can to be effective against this Gonzaga squad, who will no doubt take advantage of the paint.

Simply speaking, no one else on the Wildcats’ roster will be able to poise as close a threat as Tarczewski does in the paint.

Next man up is for sure, as Ryan Anderson will most likely get the nod at the five spot.

In what will be a tight one most of the game, expect the ‘Zags to pull away with this one late.

Follow Noah Sonnet on Twitter.

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