College basketball fans with a sense of history connect basketball at the University of Arizona with Lute Olson, who coached the team from 1983 to 2007 and established the team as one of the best in the nation. The school got the nickname “Point Guard U” because of the many successful point guards who came out of the program, such as Steve Kerr, Mike Bibby, Damon Stoudamire, Jason Terry and more. Between 1985 and 2009, the Wildcats made the NCAA tournament for 25 straight years, two years short of North Carolina’s record streak of 27 years.
They advanced to the Final Four four times (1988, 1994, 1997 and 2001), and they won a title in 1997, beating Kentucky. In more recent years, they won the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022, although NCAA violations led to the vacating of the 2017 and 2018 titles. Is this a year when the Wildcats can make another run to a title after spending the season in the shadow of UCLA – and the rest of the college basketball elite?
Read on to get our thoughts as you consider your sports betting choices. For those of you including March Madness in your online betting, read on to find our thoughts about Arizona.
NCAA Basketball Betting: Can Arizona Win the National Championship?
Arizona Wildcats Info | Updated NCAA Basketball Odds
25-6 overall and 14-6 in Pac-12 play – 2nd
Venue: McKale Center, Tucson, AZ
UCLA enters the Pac-12 tournament as the 2-seed. They have a regular-season record of 25-6 (14-6 Pac-12). They have covered the spread just 14 times in 31 games, and they are ranked 11th in both the NET rating and KenPom rankings. They have a +185 moneyline to win the Pac-12 tournament.
Going into the conference tournament, Arizona has dropped two of three. Azuolas Tubelis leads the Pac-12 in scoring (19.9 points per game) and rebounding (9.2), and the Wildcats put up 83.1 points per game, which puts them in the otp five in the nation. Their quarterfinal matchup in the Pac-12 tournament, though, is Stanford, who beat the Wildcats in their one regular-season matchup. They could also meet Utah, with whom they split their Pac-12 games.
Arizona did stumble a bit down the stretch; as of February 6, they had a record of 21-3 (10-3 Pac-12) after a 84-52 thumping of Oregon State. At that time, they still trailed UCLA by a half-game in the Pac-12 standings but had moved ahead of UCLA in the conference standings, inspiring UCLA coach Mick Cronin to cast public scorn on the ranking process. The win over Oregon State was the latest in a then-six-game winning streak in which the Wildcats limited their opponents to a combined shooting percentage of 37%. Junior forward averaged 20.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game during that streak while posting a 57.3% shooting percentage. Against the Oregon schools, he scored 59 points and grabbed 17 rebounds combined in the two games in the winning streak.
That streak would grow to seven with a 23-point win at Cal, but then the Wildcats lost at Stanford, 88-79. The Cardinal have a record of 13-18 (7-13 Pac-12) at this point, and while a college team might be forgiven for one or two poor games over the course of the long college basketball season, the Wildcats have lost two of their last three, falling at home to Arizona State before beating USC…and losing at UCLA after building an early 21-11 lead. Adem Bona got in early foul trouble and had to miss most of the first half, but UCLA was able to turn things around and lead by three at the half before pulling away in the second half.
A reason why you shouldn’t bet too heavily on Arizona is that leaky defense. Three losses in their last six games have featured at least 82 points for the winner in each setback. In four of their last six games, Arizona has permitted at least 1.06 points per possession and has permitted double-digit three-balls to their opponents. The offense is still potent, but Oumar Ballo’s production has fallen off, and the Wildcats aren’t protecting the ball or grabbing rebounds as well as they did earlier in the season.