Those travel warriors the Arizona Wildcats hit the road again for another intra-sectional game Saturday, this time for a rematch with the rising Illinois Fightin Illini.
Having already logged well over 10,000 travel miles in pre-season trips to Hawaii, Indiana and last Saturdays controversial last-second loss at Connecticut, the Cats will take another considerable jaunt, this time to hook up again with the Illini at United Center.
These schools met on Nov. 23 in the Maui Invitation final when then top-ranked UofA gave Illinois its first defeat, 79-76. Illinois had covered six straight before last Saturdays overtime win over young (but very talented) Seton Hall as a 13-point favorite.
In the first matchup, Arizona played without Loren Woods, broke open a close game at halftime and moved out to a 15-point lead, only to see the Illini rally with a three-point barrage to pull to within 77-76 with 15 seconds left. Frank Williams, who scored 19 in the Illinis 78-77 loss to Duke in the ACC-Big 10 challenge, led all scorers that day with 27 against the Wildcats, but Arizona went to the line eight more times.
Although many coaches feel that getting a team battle-tested helps in March, it doesnt necessarily add up to wins during pre-season. Illinois looks to be one of the fastest rising teams and will contend for the Big 10 title. This will be the first time that Arizona is not a considerable favorite... Illinois 81, Arizona 79.
MICHIGAN STATE 85, Kentucky 72: Spartans with four straight covers, but theyre just 2-2 laying doubles. Wildcats have been a model of inconsistency. Teams have a common opponent in North Carolina, with MSU winning by 13 at home. Cats sprung the upset in Chapel Hill in stunning fashion.
INDIANA 74, N.C., Charlotte 71: 49ers 4-1 against the number, including their only try as a road dog, dumping N.C. State convincingly at +4. Hoosiers have turned it around having covered four in a row. However, IU just 1-2 when laying singles at home.
Florida 82, Gonzaga 70: Zags have lost three straight on the board, beaten handily in their only try as a double-digit road dog at Arizona. Gators have also dropped three straight boarded outings, including winning, but failing, twice when laying doubles on their home floor.
IOWA 76, Missouri 71: Undefeated Hawkeyes have played five straight at home, covering four times, all as a favorite. Missouris only straight-up loss in seven games is to Syracuse, where MU lost by 20 as a 2-point dog. The Tigers, however, are just 2-3 against the number overall.
WAKE FOREST 82, Georgia 67: Bulldogs are 7-0 against the number so far, including four tries as a dog, picking up the straight-up win over Ga. Tech in its only true road game. The Deacs are also perfect against the line, taking the money in five board efforts.
KANSAS 82, Tulsa 68 - Golden Hurricanes opened the year with five-straight spread losses, but have since covered two straight, both on opponents home floor. Jayhawks have failed three straight and are 1-2 when laying doubles at home.
Oregon 67, Auburn 65: Auburn 1-2 against the spread on the neutral court, but this will be its first time as a dog. Ducks are 1-2 versus the money, all as favorites, getting the cover at short choice at home against UMass.
Cincinnati 77, NEVADA-LAS VEGAS 71: Rebels have beaten only Northridge and Chaminade so far. UC covered its only true road contest so far.
CONNECTICUT 74, Massachusetts 66: Huskies are 1-4 against the number as a favorite, but this is the first time theyll lay a number at home this season. Minutemen are 1-2 as a road dog, but got the cover when getting doubles against Ohio State on Sunday.
Kansas 76, DEPAUL 71: Jayhawks have failed three straight coming off misfire effort at Winston-Salem as a pick. Blue Demons play a board team at home for the first time this season after posting a 1-3 spread record to date.
OHIO STATE 78, St. Johns 75: Buckeyes are 2-4 as a favorite, including 1-2 in the role at home. Johnnies have now lost to Geo. Washington and Fordham in two of their last three outings.
TEMPLE 64, Wisconsin 62:After covering four straight, Owls are in a downward cycle, having failed in four straight. Badgers have covered three of their last four outings with only failure coming in 8-point win against Green Bay as 9-point favorite.
CINCINNATI 80, Xavier 70: Bearcats got the money for the first time last game out at Dayton, but theyre 1-3 versus the line overall, including 0-2 as home favorite (both tries at double-digits). XU 1-2 against the number, failing in its only try as a road dog.
IOWA STATE 85, Drake 57: Iowa State is coming off last weekends loss to Iowa in the battle of unbeatens, so theyll be out to throttle the Bulldogs.
INDIANA 76, Missouri 71: Traveling Tigers rallied from a 10-point deficit to knock off St. Louis last weekend, although they failed to cover the six points. Hoosiers just did get the money against Ball last Saturday, laying 14 in their Cupcake Classic, giving them a spread sweep of the two games.