NCAA Basketball Tip Off: #16 Arizona vs. Duquesne

The 2011 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic continues the 2nd day of NCAA Basketball action, and tonight’s featured showdown takes place in the Arizona desert, as the #16-ranked Arizona Wildcats host the Duquesne Dukes in a fun match-up for online sports betting on Tuesday evening. Getting off to a slightly fumbling start Monday night against Valparaiso, the Wildcats will seek to improve on their 73-64 victory, against a team slated to finish just 9th in the mid-major Atlantic 10 conference this season. Meanwhile the Dukes will seek out a way to steal away a tough road win against a Top-25 team that has already struggled and lost in exhibition play this year (Arizona was beaten by Seattle Pacific, a DII school), and will have an opportunity to prove to preseason analysts that they are better than being picked to finish 9th in the 14-team A10 conference.

Already having played one game this season, the Arizona Wildcats at least have a little bit of precedence to work off of for this match-up, which is good considering the ‘Cats have lost their top two scorers from last season, and have a flock of freshmen talent to test out early in the season. U of A head coach Sean Miller has already conceded that this young and relatively inexperienced Wildcats team is not going to live up to the preseason #16 ranking, however despite a rocky win over a relatively harmless Valpo team, this squad has already showed that a number of players are looking to step up and contribute right out of the gates. The first good sign for Arizona in Monday’s 73-64 win was the presence of senior Kyle Fogg, who put up 16 points while shooting 71.4 percent from the floor. After averaging 8.0 points per game last season, the veteran presence of the 6’3″ guard will be essential for the young talent coming in to learn from. Also good for the Wildcats was a strong start for senior Jesse Perry, who put up 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and as another veteran presence on the team it will be necessary to see similar numbers from Perry throughout the year, to help offset the hiccups that are sure to come with an abundance of talented, but young players. That young talent includes freshman guard Nick Johnson, who started the season with 14 points with 6 assists on Monday night, and went 8 of 9 from the free-throw line showing that he’s got great touch with the ball, and presses opposing defenses to challenge him. Balancing the need for veterans to step up in place of their missing stars from last season (mostly that of Derrick Williams) with the need to get young talent on the court to gain experience, tonight’s game is another great opportunity for the Wildcats to build on a win at home, and work on finishing out games through the final buzzer.

For Duquesne tonight, it’s certainly a much tougher challenge coming on the road for the first game of the year against a nationally-ranked program with a lot of basketball history. Despite finishing a respectable 18-12 last season with a 10-6 record in the A10 conference, missing their top two scorers and their top rebounder from last season has put the Dukes in line for a tougher season this year, with many hopes pegged on only a small handful of up and coming talent to help them through. Starting with last season’s A10 freshman of the year T.J. McConnell who averaged 10.8 points/game, and including B.J. Monteiro who put up 11.4 points/game, the Dukes will struggle especially with teams that are tall in the paint, as the biggest members on the Duquesne roster stand 6’8″ and 6’9″ respectively, and both happen to be freshman without any prior experience (Mamadou Datt, and Derrick Martin). Also of concern is the appalling free-throw shooting of the Dukes from last season, in which no returning player posted better than 70 percent shooting from the line in the 2010-11 year. Being outmatched in talent, height and pedigree tonight, the Dukes must find ways to score points with the clock off, and cashing in at the free-throw line is key against a young Arizona team that has already shown it’s prone to making mistakes and issuing free passes to the line.

Betting Lines for #16 Arizona vs. Duquesne

Intertops.eu Sportsbook is the featured online sports betting website we’re using for tonight’s top NCAA Basketball match-up, and taking a look over the betting lines for Arizona vs. Duquesne we see that the home-team Wildcats are the expected favorites, getting -500 odds to win outright in tonight’s tip-off. The Dukes on the other hand come in at +375 odds to win as the underdogs, which may only be worthwhile taking if you fully expect lightning to strike twice against the Wildcats (noting their loss to Seattle Pacific earlier in exhibition play). What becomes much more appealing to sports betting fans is the points spread for this contest, which stands at 9 points favoring Arizona (-110), with Duquesne having to cover 9 points at -110 odds. With Arizona showing good form in leading by 20 over Valparaiso on Monday before stalling and giving back 11 points to win by 9, any improvement for the Wildcats at home against an equally sub-par Dukes team could make for an easy win on the points spread taking Arizona to cover tonight. Lastly for online sports betting on this NCAA Hoops match-up, the total points stands at 149.5 for the over/under at Intertops.eu, and expecting the Dukes to struggle to find points around their young, short line-up, going under on total points (-110 odds) might not be a bad way to go here as well.

Our Pick to Win:

Whether or not Arizona is properly billed as the #16 team coming into this season, there is still something to be said for a program’s pedigree, and its ability to bring in top freshman talent. While on the surface Duquesne has about the same level of experience in its ranks heading into the 2011-12 season, Arizona’s talent level amongst its younger classes has already been shown off, and looks to beĀ  a cut above heading into tonight’s match-up at home. The Wildcats win this match-up having the advantages of being at home, having a more balanced offense and defense, and having a wider range of scorers available after both teams have lost their top two shooters from last season. Expecting a better closing performance at home tonight, the Wildcats roll the Dukes 75-58, covering the points spread with ease in their second game of the opening 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, which helps to kick off another great NCAA Basketball season ahead!

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