One of the bigger college basketball games of the season will be played in Tucson on Saturday night. With the No. 8 Arizona Wildcats and No. 5 Florida Gators set to square off at the McKale Center, all eyes will be on what should be an exciting, high-scoring matchup.
The Wildcats feature a solid mix of both veteran leaders and talented underclassmen. Fifth-year senior Mark Lyons has been a bit erratic at times since transferring in from Xavier, but his true talent was on display at Clemson last weekend as he led all scorers with 20 points. Senior forward Solomon Hill is one of the favorites to win Pac-12 Player of the Year, and sixth man Kevin Parrom is the glue that keeps everything running smoothly.
Arizona features a four-headed beast in the paint. Kaleb Tarczewski, a true seven-foot center who has a mean streak in him, clears out space around the basket with ease. Grant Jerrett is a pick-and-pop forward with a smooth jumper, while 6'8" forward Brandon Ashley can do a little bit of everything. Sophomore Angelo Chol plays sparingly, but has the athleticism and defensive presence to provide a spark off the bench.
The Gators have one of the most complete teams in the country, and they're yet to be truly challenged by anyone. Seven of their eight leading scorers are upperclassmen, and four players currently average double figures in scoring. UF is led by senior guard Kenny Boynton, who scores 14.4 points a night. Junior big man Patric Young had the game of his career against Arizona last year, and he hasn't skipped a beat this time around.
On paper, it seems that Florida is a bit more talented. This being said, the Gators have not seen a home crowd quite like the one that will pack McKale Center this evening. I expect the game to be close throughout, but in the end it's the Gators that pull away with the 70-66 win in the closing seconds.
Start Time, TV Schedule: 10 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. MT, ESPN
Online Stream: WatchESPN or ESPN3
Odds: Florida is favored by two points.