Arizona, coming off its first tight game of the season, will face an even higher challenge when it faces No. 4 Michigan in the championship game of the Roman Main Event on Sunday in Las Vegas.
The Wildcats (4-0) cruised through three outclassed opponents -- winning twice by more than 50 points -- before running into Wichita State on Friday night in the tournament. Arizona squandered a 16-point second-half lead but prevailed 82-78 in overtime despite committing 22 turnovers and shooting 5 of 27 from 3-point range.
"This was all of our first experience together in the in the heat of battle and we're all going to learn from it," said first-year Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd. "I'm expecting we'll probably be in a lot of these battles this year."
Michigan (3-1) bounced back Friday night by beating UNLV 74-61 after a 67-65 home loss to Seton Hall on Tuesday.
Eli Brooks led the way against the Rebels with 22 points, while five-star freshman Moussa Diabete had his best game, coming off the bench to score 14 points, grab seven rebounds and block two shots in 21 minutes.
"Like I explained to our guys, by being on the road, now we get a chance to really grow as a team," said Michigan coach Juwan Howard.
"This is the time when a team becomes a family and the brotherhood that we talk about with our culture. And we have a chance to be forced to communicate and talk to one another. So I love this time of the year because I think this is where growth starts. And tonight was a big evening of growth."
Hunter Dickinson leads Michigan with team-high averages of 17.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Brooks is next in scoring at 16.3 points per game.
The battle down low between the 7-foot-1 Dickinson and Arizona 7-1 center Christian Koloko should be compelling.
While Dickinson was a second-team All-American last season and touted as one of the best players in the country heading into this season, Koloko is looking like one of the nation's most improved players in the country through four games.
The junior is averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds. He has made 20 of 29 shots from the field and swatted 16 shots.
"C-Lo defensively was amazing," Lloyd said after the win over Wichita State. "He changes the game out front, changes the game at the rim. Especially in overtime. They felt him when we made that little run."
Azuolas Tubelis leads Arizona with 16.0 points per game, followed by Bennedict Mathurin at 15.3.
The Wildcats are playing faster this season than they did under former coach Sean Miller, and that pace is often fueled by making something good happen on defense. Arizona is allowing teams to shoot just 29.4 percent and is forcing 16.5 turnovers per game.
Michigan's interior defense, especially out of its 2-3 zone, is one of the reasons why it is considered to be a national championship contender.
These programs haven't played since a home-and-home series in 2013 and 2014 -- both Arizona wins -- and this matchup shapes up to be a taut battle.
"High-level basketball is not always a thing of beauty," Lloyd said. "It can be a rock fight."
--Field Level Media