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NCAA Tournament Odds Arizona Wildcats vs Belmont Bruins

The 2nd Round of the NCAA tournament takes place today and we will see the Belmont Bruins take on the Arizona Wildcats. The game is scheduled for a 7:20 pm (Eastern) start time and will be televised on TNT. Currently the Odds for the game have Arizona favored by 4.5 points while the total sits at 141.

Analysis: A perennial favorite in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament where it won the previous two years and a total of five times dating back to 2006, Belmont took the Ohio Valley Conference by storm this year with a 14-2 mark, easily claiming the regular-season title. Because the Bruins dominated in the OVC, losing only to Tennessee State and Murray State, the squad earned a bye through to the semifinals of the conference tournament where it defeated the aforementioned Tigers (82-74) on March 8. A day later, Belmont was pushed to overtime before taking out the Racers in a grudge match, 70-68.  Inexperience won’t be an issue for the Bruins, who feature a veteran squad with four starters scoring in double figures. Belmont, which lost 74-59 to Georgetown in last season's NCAA Tournament, is led by the senior backcourt of Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson. Clark was named the conference co-player of the year while averaging 18.1 points and shooting 54.1 percent. Belmont leads the conference in scoring (77.2) and defense (64), and the Bruins are also dangerous from 3-point range. Belmont’s long-range shooting could be a decisive factor against Arizona, which ranked last in the Pac-12 in 3-point field goal defense. The Bruins will need a big game from senior forward Trevor Noack, who will be asked to neutralize the powerful Arizona frontcourt.

As for the sixth-seeded Wildcats, a squad that has an official record of 46-26 in 29 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, as well as a 1997 title under former head coach Lute Olson, they are currently ranked 21st in the AP poll after being one of the elite teams in the Pac-12 Conference for much of 2012-13. The Wildcats finished in a second-place tie in the Pac-12 at 12-6, and they’re making their second NCAA Tournament appearance in four years under coach Sean Miller. Arizona was winless in five games against tournament teams UCLA, Oregon and California and it seemed to be looking for trouble in recent weeks. Case in point: Miller received his first technical foul this season with 4:37 left in the Wildcats’ 66-64 loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 semifinals. Xavier transfer Mark Lyons leads the team in scoring (14.8), but the senior point guard struggled offensively down the stretch. Sophomore guard Nick Johnson has averaged 15 points over the last three games. Solomon Hill is perhaps the one player who can be the most dominant for Arizona since he can seemingly do it all for the group, from scoring (13.4 ppg) and rebounding (5.3 rpg), to distributing the ball (90 assists) and making an impact on defense (40 steals, 18 blocks), but still the program is far deeper than those three headliners. 

Pick: I know the trendy play is on Belmont, but I will go the other way here. Solomon Hill on the inside gives the Cats a big advantage over the undersized Bruins. I feel he will be able to wear them down, which should really make for some easy 2nd half basket and I feel that that's when the Cats will pull away. Yes the Pac-12 is down this year, but Arizona is one of the better teams in that league and tthey will show it with a rather easy win over Belmont in this one. 


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