College Basketball: Why San Diego State vs. Arizona Is Game to Watch This Week

Joe TanseyFeatured Columnist IVNovember 28, 2016

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 15:  (L-R) Kevin Parrom #3, Solomon Hill #44, Jordin Mayes #20, Grant Jerrett #33 and Nick Johnson #13 of the Arizona Wildcats during the college basketball game against the Florida Gators at McKale Center on December 15, 2012 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Gators 65-64.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

From now until Thursday night, the only place where you can find Division I Men's Basketball being played is in Honolulu, Hawai'i at the Diamond Head Classic

State (11-1) vs. Arizona (11-0); Tuesday, December 25; 9:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2

The championship game of the Diamond Head Classic is a battle of two ranked teams: No. 18 San Diego State from the Mountain West and Pac-12 powerhouse, No. 4 Arizona.

Since their loss against Syracuse in the opening game of the season, the Aztecs of San Diego State have won 11 games in a row. 

The biggest of those 11 wins came on December 1 when the Aztecs took down UCLA by a 78-69 score. 

In their first two games in Honolulu, Steve Fisher's team defeated San Francisco behind a 33-point performance from Chase Tapley and Indiana State.

Against Indiana State in the semifinals, the Aztecs had to fight for the win until the very end as the stingy Sycamores never gave up in the 40 minutes of play on Sunday. 

San Diego State eventually pulled out a 62-55 victory over their Missouri Valley Conference opponents.

Arizona comes into Tuesday's championship game after defeating East Tennessee State and Miami (FL) in their first two games at the Diamond Head Classic.

Brandon Ashley recorded a double-double for the Wildcats in their 73-53 win in the quarterfinals over East Tennessee State. 

In the semifinals against Miami (FL), the Wildcats received a strong performance from their whole team en route to their 11th win of the season. 

The Wildcats will now face their second ranked foe in the last two weeks; they beat No. 5 Florida on December 15 at home. 

On paper, the matchup of the two teams sways on the side of the Wildcats, and the result on the court should be the same. 

Sean Miller has put together one of the most well-rounded teams in the nation, which is headlined by guards Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson.

If the Wildcats' dynamic duo of guards are unable to get their game going, Miller can turn to his players in the paint, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski.

Also roaming the court for the Wildcats will be versatile senior forward, Solomon Hill, who can hurt opponents from beyond the arc and in the paint. 

The Aztecs are not short of talent in the backcourt with Tapley and Jamaal Franklin, but they do lack size in the paint to contend with the Wildcats' big men. 

In the backcourt, Arizona possesses a slight advantage, but their real advantage will come down in the paint.

Look for Tarczewski and Ashley to have a field day against Deshawn Stephens and J.J. O'Brien in the paint, as long as they stay out of foul trouble. 

Arizona should be able to get through their final test before Pac-12 play starts and look for the Wildcats to not only win on Tuesday night but look for them to take their unbeaten record deep into a weak Pac-12 schedule.


What are your thoughts on the game of the week?

Comment below or leave me a comment on Twitter @JTansey90