Pepperdine Waves vs. Arizona Wildcats Pick 11/28/19
Pepperdine Waves (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. Arizona Wildcats (6-0 ATS, 5-1 SU)
When: Thursday, November 28, 11 p.m. EST
Where: Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, Calif.
Point Spread: PEPP -15/ARIZ -15 (GTBets)
Total: O/U 154
Last Time Out:
Pepperdine fell to Sacramento State 77-72 on Saturday; Arizona routed Long Beach State 104-67 on Sunday.
Scouting the Waves:
If you don’t know the name Colbey Ross, it’s because Pepperdine hasn’t exactly played in a lot of big games as of late. The Waves used to be a regular participant in the NCAA tournament in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but that was before Gonzaga became the powerhouse it is today, and the Waves have crashed in the presence of the Bulldogs’ dark blue shadow. Pepperdine hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2002, and judging by the Waves’ early start, this year doesn’t figure to change that.
That’s a shame because Ross is genuinely a joy to watch. He’s a scorer with excellent range, and he tends to take good shots no matter where he is on the court, as he averages above 40 percent both inside and outside the 3-point arc. He’s also a fantastic free throw shooter, hitting 91 percent of his shots from the line. Plus, he’s got some help, as Kameron and Kessler Edwards are both big targets down low and grab plenty of rebounds.
There’s just one problem: Ross can sometimes try to do too much. He averages a healthy seven assists per game, but in the loss to Sac State, the Hornets forced him into several mistakes and caused him to turn the ball over seven times. That’s a recipe for disaster against Arizona, which ranks 10th in the nation in turnovers forced this year.
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Scouting the Wildcats:
The youth movement is fully underway in Tucson, and so far, the results look promising for Sean Miller’s crew. Where the Wildcats have shined thus far is on the defensive end, as Arizona gives up a mere 57.3 points per game and has held four opponents to fewer than 65 points this season. The offense is still a work in progress, but Zeke Nnaji and his 6-foot-11 frame seem poised to become the primary option as the Wildcats see the schedule step up in difficulty. The Wildcats have only found themselves in one close game this year, but should they be in a tight one, there’s not much reason to worry about Arizona: four of the five Wildcat starters shoot better than 80 percent from the free-throw line.
Atmosphere. How do the young Wildcats react to being taken outside of the McKale Center for the first time? This will be a unique situation for Arizona to face because they’re going to a neutral arena as opposed to a hostile one, and the convention center in Anaheim isn’t likely to provide much of an atmosphere. However, if there is an atmosphere in the building, it might be the Pepperdine fans who provide it. The Waves’ Firestone Fieldhouse is a mere 55 miles from the convention center, so the Waves have the option of sleeping in their own beds and bringing a group of fans who can enjoy Thanksgiving with their families and still get out to see the game.
Pepperdine will Cover if:
The Waves can avoid turnovers. Ross is good enough to produce a lot of points in a hurry, but he can’t do any such thing if he’s busy giving the ball to the Arizona guards. If he plays his usual good game and doesn’t get overwhelmed by what Arizona brings to the table, this game could be closer than people expect, especially with it being the last game of the day and on a holiday. But if Pepperdine turns it over 20 times, Arizona will never be threatened.
Arizona will Cover if:
The Wildcats can establish Nnaji and avoid getting ahead of themselves. Pepperdine is a decent opponent, but nowhere near the quality of the opposition that’s coming up on Arizona’s schedule. This game is more of a chance for Arizona to get its feet wet in a contest that’s not a home game before getting ready for what should be a Sunday showdown with Providence for the Wooden Legacy crown. If the Wildcats show poise, they should cover.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread:
Pepperdine hasn’t seen a defense that’s anything close to what Arizona brings to the table. The Wildcats know how to deny passes, and they can hold opponents to just one shot pretty regularly. Pepperdine, on the other hand, turns it over far too often against lesser defenses. Sacramento State was able to frustrate Pepperdine, and while the Hornets are a solid Big Sky squad, they are not anywhere near the level of Arizona.
Odds are, Ross is going to try to do too much and fall short of being able to keep Pepperdine in the game. This looks like an excellent opportunity to take the Wildcats, so that’s what I’ll do.