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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Battle 4 Atlantis next stop for Arizona

From+left+to+right%2C+Dusan+Ristic%2C+Parker+Jackson-Cartwright%2C+Allonzo+Trier+and+Deandre+Ayton+watch+their+teammates+play+against+CSU+Bakersfield.
Simon Asher
From left to right, Dusan Ristic, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton watch their teammates play against CSU Bakersfield.

The No. 2-ranked Arizona men’s basketball team is headed to the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in Paradise Islands, Bahamas during the Thanksgiving break. The tournament will be the Wildcats’ first real test of the season, showcasing matchups with North Carolina State and possibly No. 5 Villanova.

Arizona will take on N.C. State at 7 p.m. EST, 5 p.m. local, Wednesday, Nov. 22. The Wolfpack features a team full of scorers, but not necessarily shooters. As a team, N.C. State shoots 26 percent from three. Its overall field goal percentage hovers around 50 percent, but the competition they’ve faced has helped in that regard, much like Arizona. Facing foes VMI, Charleston Southern, Bryant and Presbyterian, the Wolfpack has gone 4-0 so far in non-conference play under new head coach Kevin Keatts.

Torin Dorn, a transfer from Charlotte two seasons ago, leads the team in points, 18.5, and rebounds, 7.0, per game. The top five scorers for N.C. State average in double figures. 

Provided the Wildcats can keep the Wolfpack on the perimeter, Arizona should win this game.

Following the N.C. State game, the Wildcats, should they win, will matchup against the winner of Southern Methodist University and the University of Northern Iowa.

SMU and Arizona share a similar opponent in UMBC. The Mustangs struggled against the Retrievers but pulled out a late rally to win 78-67. Their overall record is 4-0, but just like the Wolfpack, they haven’t played anyone of significance to this point.

Northern Iowa is 3-1 on the season, its lone defeat coming at North Carolina 86-69. The Panthers have a penchant for coming up huge in the NCAA Tournament, but this season, they are less experienced and, as evidenced against the Tar Heels, do not have the size to matchup with bigger teams down low.

Arizona will be the favorite to win either matchup.

In the final, Arizona could match up with a number of suitors from Tennessee to Purdue, but the more likely matchup, and one most people are hoping to see, is Villanova. Those Wildcats, yes same mascot, are a year removed from a National Championship. They feature Second-Team All-American selection Jalen Brunson.

Despite losing key players, Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, Villanova should still be the favorite to win the Big East. Players to watch are Mikal Bridges, a projected first-round NBA draft pick, and Donte Divencenzo, tabbed the Michael Jordan of Delaware. This team, as in the past, is guard-heavy and creates a lot of movement on offense. It will be Arizona’s biggest challenge of the season.

This matchup would also pit head coaches Jay Wright and Sean Miller, two of the best coaches in college basketball. Wright and Miller share a lot of similarities. For one, Wright was where Miller is, a coach who has teams capable of reaching the Final Four but just can’t find a way, until he did and won. Miller, who despite reaching the Elite Eight on three separate occasions, has yet to break through.


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