North Dakota vs Arizona March Madness Spread, Expert Pick & TV Info

Posted by Michael Hunt on Wednesday,March 15, 2017 10:20, EST in

No. 2 seeds are still 120-8 all-time against No. 15 seeds, but it’s worth noting that four of those eight losses have come in the past five years. So should No. 2 Arizona be worried on Thursday night in the West Region when it faces No. 15 North Dakota? Probably not. The Wildcats, the Pac-12 Tournament champions, are solid favorites in March Madness spreads.

North Dakota vs Arizona March Madness Spread, Expert Pick & TV Info

When: Thursday, March 16, 9:50 PM ET
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City
TV: TBS
StreamMarch Madness Live
Radio: North Dakota / Arizona
Opening NCAAB Lines: Arizona -16.5

Why Bet On North Dakota?

North Dakota rebooted their basketball program in 2009-10 after an 89-year hiatus. Just seven years later, they are making their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament after winning the Big Sky tournament as the top seed. Head coach Brian Jones has led his program to a DI-record 22 wins and posted the first 20-win season since the 2004-05 team (20-10).

Just getting here was a thriller when the Hawks used a furious rally to defeat Weber State in the Big Sky tourney finale. North Dakota trailed by 11 points with less than 8 minutes left and by six points in the last minute before forcing overtime.

North Dakota can shoot (48.5% from the field, 18th in the nation, including 38.5% from three-point range) and score (80.1 points a game, 35th). Top marksman Quinton Hooker is accurate from everywhere. The competition will be a step up from the Big Sky, but the Hawks should have a fighting chance.

Hooker is the only player in program history to score 1,700 points (1,734), grab 400 rebounds (494), dish out 400 assists (413) and net 150 steals (191) in a career. He is second among active Big Sky scorer’s trailing only Weber State’s Jeremy Senglin (2,030). Hooker’s 413 assists and 191 steals are tops among Big Sky players.

This will be the first time UND has played Arizona on the hardwood, but the team has played a pair of Pac-12 members within the last four seasons. The Fighting Hawks fell 91-76 at Oregon on Nov. 30, 2013 and, then dropped a 90-53 decision at Utah on Nov. 28, 2014. Both games were part of multi-team events hosted by the Ducks and Utes.

The fourth-ranked Wildcats will be the highest-ranked team the Fighting Hawks have played at the Division I level.

Why Bet On Arizona?

Arizona opened the month by winning three games in three nights in Las Vegas to win the 2017 Pac-12 Tournament. It marked the fifth time Arizona has won at least a share of the regular season title and won the conference tournament in the same season since joining the Pac-12 Conference prior to the 1978-79 season.

The Wildcats own one of the most dangerous scoring duos in the game in Allonzo Trier and Lauri Markkanen. Over his last seven games, Trier is averaging 22.1 points while the 7-foot freshman Markkanen averaged 20.0 points in the Pac-12 tournament, which included sinking over 47% of his three-pointers. It’s a complete team with perimeter and inside scoring threats, as well as a deep bench led by Kobi Simmons and Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The defense isn’t always sound, meaning Wildcats games can turn into track meets.

UA is no stranger to NCAA tournament play in Salt Lake City. The Cats played in SLC in the 1991, 1993, 2000, 2003 and 2013 NCAA Tournaments with a record of 7-2 in those games. Arizona is 41-19 (.683) in NCAA postseason play when playing west of the Mississippi River. That record includes 11 wins in 15 games played out west with Sean Miller as head coach. The Wildcats’ pair of wins in Salt Lake City in the 2013 NCAA Tournament came in the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Thursday will mark the first-ever meeting between Arizona and North Dakota. UA is 63-2 in first head-to-head meetings with another program in the last 25 years with a mark 13-0 against first-ever opponents in the NCAA Tournament during that span.

These two squads played a pair of common opponents during the 2016-17 regular season. Arizona defeated Big Sky member Northern Colorado 71-55 on Nov. 21, while UND won a pair of single-overtime contests in both of its Big Sky affairs with the Bears this season (87-77, Feb. 25 home; 84-81, Feb. 25 away). Both teams also defeated Cal-State Bakersfield in November. UA won 78-66 at the McKale Center (Nov. 15), while UND used a buzzer-beater to cap a game-closing 12-0 run to beat the Roadrunners 57- 55 at Men Against Breast Cancer Classic in Dayton, Ohio (Nov. 27).

North Dakota vs Arizona Expert Pick: Arizona Wildcats

UND will be happy to simply be here. The Cats win by around 20.