Two teams on entirely different trajectories will converge Wednesday evening in Boulder (7 pm| Espn2) when Arizona (22-5, 10-4) faces off against Colorado (19-9, 8-7). Arizona, fresh off a blowout of rival ASU and winners of seven in a row, will meet Colorado, who is coming off being swept in LA and losing four of their last six. Arizona continues to rise back up the NCAA Tournament seeding projections (around a 4/5 projection currently), while Colorado is struggling to maintain its projected spot in the field (entered this past weekend as an 8 seed).
Senior big man Josh Scott shoulders much of the load for Colorado, averaging 16 points and 9 boards a game this season. Last year, in the one game against Arizona Scott played in (missed the matchup in Tucson due to injury), the Wildcats were able to hold him to 9 points and 6 boards. Tarczewski will again look to control Scott as much as possible down low, as doing so will greatly hinder Colorado’s chances at an upset.
Especially as opposed to recent seasons, the biggest issue for Colorado this season has been their backcourt play. Without any experienced or overly talented point guards, Colorado lacks true playmakers. Guards George King and Josh Fortune, however, have proven to be adequate role players (combining to average 24 and 9).
The trouble area for Colorado is having to rely on freshman/senior guard combo Thomas Akyazili and Xavier Talton. Both struggle to create scoring opportunities for teammates, something a good three-point shooting team like Colorado relies on.
As a team, Colorado has a 3P% of 39%. To keep it close against Arizona, its three best three-point shooters, George King (45%), Josh Fortune (39%), and Dominique Collier (46%)will all need to have big days.
With only one true home loss, Colorado has proven to be a difficult venue to play at. Arizona has a significant experience edge against the Buffaloes. Ryan Anderson and Zeus should be able to continue to dominate the boards, as has been the case in recent weeks. Over the past five Arizona games, Anderson and Zeus have combined for 113 rebounds (22.6 rebounds per game between the two of them).
With PJC playing the best basketball of his Arizona career, York continuing to show confidence with his outside shot, and Allonzo Trier proving to be the Wildcats best player at creating his own shot, Arizona will look to take advantage of its immense talent advantage at the guard position. Throw in Kadeem Allen getting closer and closer to being back to 100% after a recent virus, and productive guard play Wednesday night should propel Arizona towards its highly anticipated showdown in Utah Saturday afternoon. Expecting a large crown in Boulder with the Wildcats coming to town (call it the Arizona Effect), this is a matchup where Arizona will hope its guard play and experience bode well towards picking up another conference road victory.