Friday College Basketball Odds, Pick for Wichita State vs. Arizona: Can Wildcats Cover Big Spread at Home?
William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, Pictured: Craig Porter Jr.
- Wichita States takes on Arizona in Friday's college-basketball action in Tucson.
- The Wildcats are favored by nine points in this contest featuring two of the nation's newer coaches
- Charlie Disturco breaks down the matchup below and gives his top selection.
Wichita State vs. Arizona Odds
|Wichita State Odds|
-105o / -115u
-105o / -115u
Two undefeated teams with high expectations meet in the semifinals of the Roman Main Event on Friday night, when Arizona takes on Wichita State.
The Wildcats have tormented its mid-major foes to start the season, winning by an average margin of 45 points. They most recently won the first game of this tournament against North Dakota State, 97-45.
Wichita State, meanwhile, has scraped by its competition without Tyson Etienne. The win margin has progressively grown each game for the Shockers, who last beat Tarleton by 14.
Arizona is a new team with a first-year head coach while the Shockers enter year two under Isaac Brown with an experienced squad. Both teams enter the season with conference championship aspirations and Friday is their first taste of real competition.
The Wildcats opened as heavy favorites. Can they live up to the high expectations and continue its streak of blowouts?
Taking over as head coach in the preseason of 2020, Isaac Brown found instant success. He led the shockers to a regular season AAC championship and an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. Expectations are high for a Wichita State team that returns four of its five leading scorers.
Tyson Etienne is the star of the team. The AAC co-Player of the Year, Etienne can shoot the lights out and is the go-to option for this Shockers offense. He averaged 16.3 points per game last year on 39.2 percent shooting from 3.
Etienne missed the Shockers’ previous two games with an illness but returned to practice and is on track to play Friday night. The only game he played this year was the season opener against Jacksonville State, where he hit a 3 from the logo to end it.
TYSON ETIENNE FROM DEEP FOR THE WICHITA STATE WIN 🔥
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) November 10, 2021
This Wichita State roster is experienced. When fully healthy, Brown threw out a starting lineup of four seniors, the lone outsider being the junior Etienne. Morris Udeze provides stability at the center position, playing primarily out of the post.
Udeze is one of the few players that found success inside the arc for Wichita State, which ranked 324th in 2-point percentage last season, per Kenpom. The Shockers do rely mostly on the 3 ball and have a pair of sharpshooters alongside Etienne that can heat up at any moment in Dexter Dennis and Ricky Council IV.
The one area Wichita State lacks in is the height department. Udeze and transfer Joe Pleasant (Abilene Christian) are both 6-foot-8 and are tasked with defending the paint. It isn’t a problem against most mid-major programs, but teams with formidable front courts should feast on the glass.
The new era of Arizona basketball is here. Gone are the days of Sean Miller, FBI investigations and postseason bans. It’s the Tommy Lloyd show and three games in, albeit against lesser competition, the Wildcats have dominated. Their worst win? A 29-point beatdown of Northern Arizona.
Lloyd is as experienced as it gets for a first-time head coach. He’s been an assistant at Gonzaga for 20 years, learning the ways of Mark Few and contributing toward a program’s growth from mid-major average Joe to Goliath.
As expected with new coaches, the program normally undergoes severe turnover. Five players transferred from the Wildcats including leading scorer and playmaker James Akinjo (Baylor). But Lloyd was not only able to retain plenty of talent, he went into the transfer portal and snagged Pelle Larsson (Utah), Justin Kier (Georgia) and Oumar Ballo (Gonzaga).
Arizona’s strength comes from its front court highlighted by 6-foot-11 Pac 12 All-Freshman Azuolas Tubelis. The Wildcats are the third-tallest team in the nation, thanks in large part to the pair of 7-footers Christian Koloko and the aforementioned Ballo.
Tubelis stretches the floor and provides instant offense for the Wildcats, while Koloko and Ballo will make any team think twice before working the ball inside the paint. Granted, it’s been three games, but the skyscraper duo of Koloko and Ballo have combined for 16 blocks.
While the Wildcats offense may not be as dominant as last season — 15th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom — they are young and deep. Two names to keep an eye on are Pac 12 All-Freshman Bennedict Mathurin and sophomore Kerr Kriisa, who is expected to handle point guard duties in the wake of Akinjo’s transfer.
This Arizona team isn’t one to be slept on despite major turnover. They’re an incredibly talented defensive squad with limitless potential. A Pac 12 title in Lloyd’s first season at the helm isn’t an unrealistic goal.
Wichita State vs. Arizona Betting Pick
Arizona seems extremely polished under Lloyd despite it being his first season as coach. Not only are they suffocating teams defensively, but the Wildcats’ offense is running like a well-oiled machine.
Meanwhile, the Shockers have stumbled through its first few games. Teams like Jacksonville State and South Alabama have taken Wichita State down to the wire. Even with Etienne returning and providing fresh legs, we do not know what to expect from the junior in his first game back from illness.
The difference maker here is Arizona’s length. They will disrupt Wichita State’s rhythm and cause problems on the perimeter. If the Shockers try to drive inside the paint, a front court that includes three players 6-foot-11 or taller awaits.
Wichita State simply is not equipped to handle the size of Arizona, and they have a history of struggling on the glass. Last season, per KenPom, the Shockers ranked 332nd in opponent offensive rebounding percentage. I expect that to continue on Friday night.
The only way this game ends up being close down the stretch is if one of the Wichita State shooters catches fire, which I’m willing to bet against. With an opening number of 7.5, I see Arizona clearing this number easily, exploding out of the gate and using a mixture of 3s and second-chance opportunities to win by double digits.
Pick: Arizona -9.5 or better