Men's Basketball

‘Hall of Fame’ talent headlines this matchup in NCAA Tournament in Boise

Arizona 7-foot-1 freshman Deandre Ayton is the projected No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft.
Arizona 7-foot-1 freshman Deandre Ayton is the projected No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft. AP

No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 13 Buffalo

Region: South

When: 7:40 p.m. Thursday (CBS)

Vegas line: Arizona by 8.5

Why Arizona should win: The Wildcats feature one of the country’s most talented rosters, led by 7-foot-1 freshman Deandre Ayton (20.3 ppg, 11.5 rebounds), the projected No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft. Add in 7-foot senior center Dusan Ristic, and few teams can match up with Arizona.

Why Buffalo could win: Arizona coach Sean Miller has referred to this as his worst defensive team. The Wildcats rank 95th in the country in defensive efficiency (101.4) and 237th in 3-point defense (36.2 percent). Buffalo plays at a breakneck pace, which could spell trouble for Arizona.

[Previews: Gonzaga vs. UNC Greensboro, Ohio State vs. South Dakota State, Kentucky vs. Davidson]

Notable: Arizona was ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP poll. … Miller has never reached the Final Four. … Miller previously reached the Sweet 16 in Boise while coaching Xavier in 2008-09. … Buffalo has scored 80 or more points 25 times, the most in Division I. … Buffalo is 0-3 all-time at the NCAA Tournament.. … The wife of Buffalo coach Nate Oats was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. She’s in remission after a bone marrow transplant and six rounds of chemo. … ESPN’s Giant Killer metric gives Buffalo an 11.6 percent chance of pulling the upset.

Quotable: “You’ve seen Deandre Ayton, he’s ridiculous. He’s Hall of Fame good,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said.

Prediction: Arizona 85, Buffalo 77

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

  Comments