Game Matchups and Preview: Utah at Arizona

The battle in Tucson is here as two top 10 teams go at it

Guards
Nothing left to say about Delon Wright. He's the best player in the Pac 12 and one of the best in the country. Brandon Taylor continues to impress and play efficiently. His effectiveness on defense is often overlooked. The Utah guards are going to face one of their bigger challenges of the season against the efficient duo below. If there's a game where their overall lack of athleticism (or Taylor's size) may hurt them, this could be the one.

T.J. McConnell is a pain in the ass. He isn't great at anything, but the 6-1 point guard is a stat sheet stuffer with 8.7 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.2 steals. Runs a team perfectly as well. One of the best floor generals in the country. True freshman Stanley Johnson is probably the best freshman in the conference and one of the best in the country. At 6-7. 245 pounds, he can do it all. Johnson averages a team leading 14.4 points to go along with 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. He also shoots 40% from beyond the arc. An NBA lottery pick this year.
Advantage: Arizona

Forwards
If Jordan Loveridge is stroking it from deep, it will open things up in the middle for Utah, which they'll need with all of that Wildcat size inside. The Utes will need Loveridge to score and help offset some of the attention Wright will be drawing as well. Is he up for it? The Utes may need more minutes out of Reyes and his bigger body going against the size of a guy like Brandon Ashley inside. As long as he can get some boards and play solid D, the junior will have done his job.

There may not be a better athlete in the country than Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Utah fans should remember some of the soaring dunks he threw down against them last season (particularly in the Pac 12 tournament). The high flyer is a threat on the offensive glass as well, helping him reach averages of 11.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Next to RHJ is Brandon Ashley. The junior averages 11 points per game, 5.4 boards, and can also shoot it from deep (40%). These two make up the best forward duo that Utah will face all regular season.
Advantage: Arizona

Center
Jakob Poeltl continues to show flashes mixed with youth. His 9.3 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game are plenty for Utah on the offensive end, but the big freshman continues to make his bones on D, blocking shots and affecting others. The high flying Wilcats love to dunk and Poeltl will have his chances to send them back.

Kaleb Tarczewski has to be one of the most frustrating players to watch for Wildcat fans in the history of the program. The 7 footer looked like a future lottery pick early in his career, but hasn't improved much (now a junior) and is generally viewed as soft. He doesn't rebound (especially offensively), but there's still plenty of talent. Very comparable to Poeltl, but plays with less aggression and desire.
Advantage: Utah

Bench
So much depth for Utah. Chapman continues to thrive while Tucker has really found his niche. Bachynski is playing in a way where he'd start for half the teams in the conference. Once Ogbe returns, a deep unit gets even better.

Arizona will be without sharpshooter Gabe York, and that hurts them a bit. Elliott Pitts is a deadly shooter, but that's about the extent of his game. True freshman Parker Jackson-Cartwright will also get minutes, but the Cats aren't nearly as deep as Utah.
Advantage: Utah

The Breakdown
Utah has played two teams that had a sizable athletic advantage on them this season in San Diego State and Kansas. Utah has two losses this season, to San Diego State and Kansas. Arizona has more overall talent. Utah has the best player and the best in-game coach. This is going to be an absolute slug-fest where limiting the runs of the other team could be the difference. Will the athleticism difference and the hostile environment be too much for Utah to overcome? Flip a coin? When that's the case, go with the home team.

The Pick
Arizona 71 Utah 69

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