College basketball prediction: California vs. Arizona pick


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It’s hard to find a bigger college basketball mismatch in conference play than what we’ll see on Thursday when fourth-ranked Arizona (21-3) faces lowly California (3-20), and this gaudy point spread still doesn’t reflect the gap between these two teams.

On one side is Arizona, which has looked like one of the best teams in the country all season. The Wildcats have won six straight games after Saturday’s 32-point beatdown of Oregon State, which marked this team’s third straight win by at least 15 points.

California vs. Arizona (11 p.m. Eastern) prediction: Arizona -18.5 (-102, FanDuel)

On the other side is California, which has lost seven straight contests by an average of 17.7 points — with only one of those games decided by fewer than 13 points. The Golden Bears lost by 13 points when these teams played earlier this season, and it would have been worse if Arizona had made more than four of its 20 attempts from deep (20 percent).

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That was the third-worst showing all year from this Wildcats offense, which ranks just outside of the top 10 in adjusted efficiency and boasts a top-five assist rate (67.1 percent). Arizona’s only real bugaboo is an elevated turnover rate (19.1 percent), which isn’t a concern against a California defense that ranks among the worst teams in the nation in generating on-ball steals (7.1 percent).

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The Golden Bears were lucky to score 68 points in these teams’ last meeting, with 25 points coming from top-scorer Devin Askew. He has since been ruled out for the season, making an already juicy bet all the more appealing for the favored Wildcats.

California vs. Arizona pick: Arizona -18.5 (-102, FanDuel)

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