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College basketball expert pick for Colorado vs. No. 10 Arizona on Thursday

The Buffaloes head down to Tuscon for a Pac-12 showdown against the shaky Wildcats.

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We have Thursday night Pac-12 action in the desert as the Colorado Buffaloes as the Colorado Buffaloes head down to McKale Center in Tuscon to battle the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats. Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m. ET and the game will air on ESPN.

Colorado (11-2, 2-0 Pac-12) got off to a quick start in Pac-12 play by sweeping both Washington schools last weekend, last taking down Washington State 74-67 on Sunday. The Buffs held the Coogs at bay as KJ Simpson dropped 34 points in the win.

Arizona (10-3, 1-1 Pac-12) split a pair of track meets against the Bay Area schools last weekend, last stumbling in a 100-82 loss to Stanford last Sunday. The Wildcats trailed for the entire game, allowing Stanford to go 16-25 from three and shoot 58.1% overall from the field to pull the upset.

Arizona ranks 7th in adjusted efficiency on both offense and defense per KenPom, but Colorado is a top 30 team in both categories as well. Where this matchup will get interesting is down low in the paint when UA has the ball. The Oumar Ballo-led Wildcats have been one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, but will be going up against a Buffaloes defense that has been elite at limiting offensive boards. Zona will need those second-chance opportunities to keep the ball out of the hands of CU shooters, who are shooting 40.8% from three.

What this game means for Colorado

Colorado has gotten off to a fast start in conference play and are knocking on the door of the AP Top 25. Tad Boyle has the Buffs on track to make the NCAA Tournament for a second time in three years and a conference road victory over the Pac-12 favorites would be add a major bullet point to their resume.

What this game means for Arizona

Zona has been a bit wobbly as of late, losing three of its last five ballgames. The Wildcats are still metrically a top five team in both KenPom and NET, but they can’t continue to stumble as they settle into Pac-12 play. A loss tonight would have AP voters/NCAA committee members rethinking their status as one of the nation’s top teams this year, so they need to handle business at home.

Colorado vs. Arizona odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Arizona -12.5
Total: 159
Moneyline: Arizona -850, Colorado +575

Pick: Colorado +12.5