#2 Arizona vs #15 North Dakota
30-3, PAC-12 16-2
Player to Watch: Lauri Markkanen
The best player on Arizona is Allonzo Trier but there are talented combo guards all over the country. There is no player in the country like Lauri Markkanen. The seven foot forward knocks down deep shots and beats you in the post. Markkanen is impossible to stop as he can beat you in a number of different ways.
X Factor: Spreading the ball around
Arizona is extremely deep with talented guys coming off the bench. Their x-factor is spreading the ball around because they are one of the few teams that can do that effectively. Not every team has Kobi Simmons and Parker Jackson-Cartwright coming off the bench. If one player holds the ball the offense will not be as effective. Move the ball, spread it around, get the win.
22-9, Big Sky 14-4
Player to Watch: Quinton Hooker
Hooker is a senior guard who averages 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists on the season. His 42% 3-point shooting percentage is going to be key for keeping up with Arizona’s potent offense. As a senior, Hooker will leave everything on the floor and has the experience to lead North Dakota.
X Factor: Outside Shooting
North Dakota ranks 36th in the country in three-point shooting percentage. If North Dakota wants to hang with Arizona and make Sean Miller sweat they will need to make a lot of deep shots.
Match-Up to Watch: Quinton Hooker vs. Parker Jackson-Cartwright
The battle to watch will be the two point guards. North Dakota will need Hooker to go off in this game. Parker Jackson-Cartwright is the straw that stirs the Arizona Wildcats offense. Look for these two to dual it out at the top.
Key Stat: Turnovers
When you look at upsets there are a few stats that always turn the game. Those two stats are always turnovers and three pointers. North Dakota has done a very good job forcing turnovers and Arizona has done a very good job holding onto the ball. Something has to give with turnovers and North Dakota will need those extra possessions to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Arizona 85, North Dakota 65
Arizona is too good and well rounded to be upset this year. The Wildcats will run and gun and the Fighting Hawks will not have a chance.