The (#8) Arizona Wildcats (27-6) and the (#2) UCLA Bruins (29-4) will face off in the Pac-12 Championship game on Saturday night. UofA boat raced rival ASU 78-59 in the semis one night after scoring 95 on Stanford in the quarterfinals. The Wildcats splashed 10-of-19 from deep and finished the game shooting 56% from the field on 55 shots. Meanwhile, UCLA has won 12 in a row and blew out Oregon in the previous round 75-56. They entered the tourney without the services of defensive superstar Jaylen Clark, but they held the Ducks to 33% shooting last night. The two Pac-12 juggernauts split the regular season series.
Arizona vs. UCLA Betting Odds
Odds are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Arizona vs. UCLA Match Details
Fixture: Arizona Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins (Neutral)
Date and Time: Saturday, March 11, 2023, at 9:30 p.m. ET
Venue: T-Mobile Arena
ShotQuality Tale of the Tape
Below, we will highlight essential ShotQuality data for this matchup, including Adjusted Offensive and Defensive SQ, strengths, weaknesses, and frequency. SQppp is a player’s average ShotQuality points per possession.
Thus, SQppp = Total SQpoints/Total No. of Possessions.
The UCLA Bruins own a 1.16 AdjOFF SQ this season, good for 13th in the nation. Arizona has the 31st-best AdjDEF SQ at 0.94. UCLA is average or poor in all key stats but shot-making and spacing, where they are in the 59th percentile or better. They are also 33rd in rim & three SQ PPP. Conversely, the Wildcats are in the 4th percentile in defensive shot-making and 63rd in defensive rim & three SQ PPP but 355th in defensive spacing (98th percentile). However, the UofA defense will have a massive edge in shot selection, the free throw rate metric (FTR), and the open three rate metric.
The Bruins own high-frequency numbers in cut, catch-and-shoot three-point, isolation, midrange, P&R ball screen, post-up, and transition shot types. They are in the top 150 in all those shot types except the P&R and cut while dominating in scoring in transition (18th in the country in SQ PPP). Conversely, the Wildcats’ defense has been incredible this season in defending those high-frequency shot types and will have a massive edge in the P&R and cut.
The Arizona Wildcats have a 1.13 AdjOFF SQ, the 40th-best mark in the country. UCLA has posted a 0.89 AdjDEF SQ this season, clocking in at 2nd in the country. The Wildcats are in the top 85 in all key categories except the open three rate, where they are 352nd in the country. From a defensive perspective, the Bruins mirror the Wildcats, being elite in most key categories, except spacing and shot-making, where they are in the 74th percentile or worse. However, they will have the edge on the Wildcats’ offense in the open three-rate metric.
Arizona is in the country’s top half in frequency regarding the following shot types: catch-and-shoot three-pointers, cut, off-the-dribble three-pointers, P&R ball screen, and transition. The advantages are slight, but the Wildcats’ offense has the edge in the P&R, while the UCLA defense should be elite in transition.
Arizona vs. UCLA Prediction
I’m feeling the Wildcats in this one, especially after watching them play live against the Sun Devils last night. With the services of Clark, the Bruins may be able to slow down the high-powered UofA offense, especially their swingmen, but he will be absent for the remainder of the year. I like the prospects of UCLA more from a March Madness perspective, but in this particular game, give me UofA.