Wednesday’s college basketball card presents several intriguing matchups in the Pac-12 Conference, including Arizona at Utah.
Arizona at Utah (+4.5) (-110)
I am not sure if there is a more underrated team in college basketball than Utah as the Utes are 25-12 ATS versus teams with a winning record, including a perfect 11-0 ATS versus elite opposition with a win percentage between .600 and .800. Utah is also 17-6 ATS as home underdogs, 20-8 ATS when playing with revenge, 17-7 ATS at home versus conference opponents and 14-2 ATS after having won two of its last three games.
From a fundamental standpoint, Utah is 4.5 points per game better than average offensively (78.7 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 74.2 points per game. However, the Utes are 16-1 SU and 10-2 ATS at home this season where they are averaging 85.1 points per game on 53.1% shooting from the field and 37.2% from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for Utah backers, the Utes welcome an Arizona squad that possesses a defense that is 16.0 points per game better than average (57.5 points per game to teams that would combine to average 73.5 points per game).
One of my favorite things to do is invest on .595 or greater home underdogs who possess a good defense, and that is precisely what we have tonight with Utah. In fact, Utah is limiting opponents to a mere 62.1 points per game at home on 38.8% shooting from the floor and 28.8% from beyond the arc. Overall, Utah is 6.6 points per game better than average defensively (64.2 points per game to teams that would combine to average 70.8 points per game), which is good enough to contain an Arizona attack that is just 4.5 points per game better than average (73.1 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 68.6 points per game). More importantly, Arizona is averaging just 68.3 points per game on the road and 65.4 points in its last five games over which time the Wildcats are shooting 38.8% from the field and 27.5% from three-point territory.
Arizona ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage (46.6) and is 10th in both points per game (73.1) and free-throw percentage (65.7). Arizona’s depth has also become an issue with the loss of Brandon Ashley as each starter played more than 45 minutes Friday, while four reserves combined for only 22 minutes. A lack of depth against a quality home underdog in altitude spells doom for the Wildcats tonight. With Utah standing at 8-4 ATS in conference play and 15-5 ATS avenging a road loss, take the Utes plus the generous points and invest with confidence.