(25) California Golden Bears at (18) Arizona Wildcats (-5)
The no. 25 California Golden Bears (21-8, 11-5 Pac-12) are looking to close the regular season in style. With just two games remaining on the slate, the Bears can stretch their win-streak to eight tonight. But they’ll have to do so in one of the nation’s toughest environments as they visit the no. 18 Arizona Wildcats (22-7, 10-6 Pac-12) at the McKale Center in Tucson (9:00 PM Eastern).
After losing back to back games to Utah and Colorado at the end of January, Cal found itself on the March Madness bubble. But seven straight Ws later, they look like a lock for the field of 68 and even have an outside chance at a Pac-12 regular season title.
Cal sits third in the conference, trailing first-place Oregon by just one game. They’ll likely need to close out the season with two road wins to have a shot, though, and that will be a tall order for a team that has struggled away from home at times. All eight of the Bears’ losses have come in road or neutral site games.
They’ve won their last two on the road (bringing their Pac-12 road record to 2-5), but those wins came against conference bottom-feeders Washington and Washington State. It’s no coincidence that those were the only road contests during their current win streak.
Traveling to the McKale Center is an entirely different scenario. The Wildcats have been one of the best home teams in the nation over the last few years. Sean Miller doesn’t have the star-studded roster he’s used to – and Arizona did lose at home to Oregon earlier in the year – but they’ve won four straight at home since then.
Arizona will be eager to get back in the win column, too, after an unsuccessful road trip that saw them drop back-to-back games to Colorado and Utah. The usually high-scoring Cats (81.1 PPG) were held to 72 and 64 points in the setbacks.
Arizona will also be out for payback after dropping a heartbreaker at Cal earlier in the year (74-73). Cal’s Jordan Matthews dropped 28 points off the bench in the win. Gabe York was the high man for Zona with 15 points, but couldn’t convert on the potential game-winner at the buzzer.
Cal covered as two-point home dogs in that one, but Arizona covered four straight prio. The Wildcats aren’t trending in the right direction, but they’re still an elite team that tends to dominate on its home court. Roll with the Wildcats and lay the points.
Pick: Arizona (-5).
(Photo credit: Beaverbasketball (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)