Arizona Wildcats Basketball Live Stream

The Arizona Wildcats and Xavier Musketeers meet on Thursday in the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16. The Wildcats are the No. 2 seed to the Musketeers’ No. 11 in the tournament’s West region. The winner will play Gonzaga or West Virginia on Saturday, at which point a spot in the Final Four will be on the line.

The first thing to know about this game is that it’s not the mismatch the teams’ seedings make it look like. Xavier is a Cinderella in name only. They’ve got a tested team with tournament experience, and their leader, guard Trevon Bluiett, is having one of the best tournaments of any player anywhere. They’ve beaten two higher-seeded but not better teams, Maryland and Florida State, to get this far.

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Arizona is still the favorite. The Wildcats have one of the most talented teams in the country, and it remains to be seen if Xavier has anyone who can guard wing Allonzo Trier and guard Rawle Alkins, among others, in a one-on-one look. They have a complete offense, with good three-point shooting, some inside scoring threats, strong ball security, and proficiency at the free-throw line. The Cats beat North Dakota and Saint Mary’s to secure their regional semifinal spot.

The game’s at a neutral site in San Jose, Calif., but the Wildcats are going to have a significant home-court edge. Xavier is a cross-country flight away from California, while for Zona fans, this is a long, but makable, drive through California. One would expect the crowd will tilt heavily toward Sean Miller’s team, and that tends to be an advantage.

Both of these teams have good offenses and slightly worse defenses. On paper, the weakest phase of the game for either team is Xavier’s defense. These games aren’t played on paper, but if they were, that’d be the key thing: Xavier’s going to have a hard time keeping the basketball out of its own hoop. If the Musketeers can do that, whether by playing great defense or getting some good shooting luck, they can win.

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