Oddsmakers are luring bettors to the road team in the February 4th Arizona at Utah pick. The 13-4 Wildcats are just -1.5 favorites going away to the Jon M. Huntsman Center against the 7-7 Utes. Arizona has won 6 of the last 7 in this series, but Utah did score an 83-76 win when they last played at home in 2019.
These two teams have different momentum as well. Utah came back from 19 points down to beat a very good Colorado team 77-74 on Saturday as +7 road underdogs. The Wildcats beat up on a bad Cal team 71-50 their last time out, but split with Stanford prior to that and are now just 4-3 over their last 7. It’s still looking like an Arizona play, but should it be?
Arizona Just Too Deep?
Even with second leading scorer Jemarl Baker, Jr. lost for the season to a hand injury last month, Arizona is still a very balanced team with four other players averaging in double figures. As a result the Wildcats have the #1 scoring team in the Pac-12, and have gone for 80+ in three of the five games that Baker has missed.
James Akinjo has been the constant in the Arizona offense this season. The 6’0 guard has gone for 16+ in five of the last six games, with three 20+ scoring outputs over that span. Akinjo has had to be great, as Bennedict Mathurin has seen his big game potential wane a bit since spraining an ankle vs. Arizona State. He has a high output of 10 points in the last three games, but had a 24 and a 31 point output in the couple weeks prior.
The Wildcats had been a bit thin at the guard position with Baker out, but they get some reinforcements ahead of the February 4th Arizona at Utah pick. Highly touted freshman Kerr Kriisa makes his debut after being forced to sit out 70% of the teams games due to eligibility issues. Kriisa is a solid three point shooter, ball handler, and defender, but perhaps most importantly is a body to give Akinjo some rest.
Utah is Very Efficient
The Utes don’t take a lot of bad shots – or even deep shots for that matter. Utah leads the Pac 12 in field goal percentage as well as assists, and gets 54% of its points from 2-point field goals. That’s how teams avoid bad days, but it makes you wonder how the Utes are still just 7-7 on the year?
Make no mistake, it’s not like Utah can’t shoot the three. Alfonso Plummer broke the Pac-12 tournament record with 11-three pointers last year right before the pandemic hit. Plummer is also coming off a game in which he scored 23 points in 17 minutes to lead the comeback over Colorado.
Plummer isn’t even the Utes best scorer, that honor goes to 6’6 forward Timmy Allen who is putting up 16.8 ppg. 6’8 forward Mikael Jantunen doesn’t score a lot (9.1 ppg), but he also doesn’t miss that much either (65% from the field). The Utes have a 7’footer in Branden Carlson to match up with fellow 7-footer Christian Koloko of Arizona.
Free February 4th Arizona at Utah Pick
The Wildcats are on the road for the first time in the last three games, although they are a solid 4-1 going away this season. It would seem like oddsmakers are begging you to lay the -1.5, which 66% of public bettors are doing. Utah is efficient though, and can win this on their own court.
Utah 71 – Arizona 68
Free Pick: Utah +1.5