2023 Pac-12 Basketball Tournament Betting Preview, Bracket & Odds
Stephen Lam/Getty Images. Pictured: The Pac-12 logo.
Over the last two years, the Pac-12 has been dominated by Arizona and UCLA.
Last year, Arizona won the regular-season title and UCLA finished second. The teams split the regular-season meetings, but Arizona beat the Bruins in the Pac-12 Tournament Championship game.
This year, UCLA won the regular-season title and Arizona finished second. The teams again split the regular season meetings, each winning on their home floor.
Can anyone prevent the conference’s power programs from meeting in the championship game again?
2023 Pac-12 Tournament Bracket
2023 Pac-12 Tournament Odds
|Team||Odds (Via FanDuel)|
Pac-12 Performance Change In Last 30 Days
UCLA Bruins (+120)
UCLA ran through the Pac-12 and finished 18-2 in the conference in the regular season. The Bruins won the regular-season title over Arizona because they did a better job of avoiding the upset bug. They lost to Arizona and USC, while Arizona lost to UCLA, Utah, Oregon, Stanford, Washington State and Arizona State.
UCLA could accomplish that feat in part because it was more consistent on the defensive end. The Bruins rank second nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and sixth in scoring defense. They’re 24th in adjusted offensive efficiency as well.
As the top overall seed, the Bruins earned a bye and will play the winner of Washington and Colorado on Thursday. They also get the benefit of avoiding Arizona and USC until the championship. While Arizona is the better team, UCLA may prefer to see the Wildcats than USC.
USC has had UCLA’s number over the last few years. This year, the teams split the season series, but USC covered both meetings and probably would have swept the Bruins with a better first half at Pauley Pavilion.
If they meet in the championship game, the Bruins should be favored, but I would lean toward USC covering.
Arizona Wildcats (+210 on DraftKings)
Arizona has value at +210. It will play the winner of Stanford-Utah on Thursday and would likely be a double-digit favorite in both matchups.
If the bracket holds serve, it will get either USC or Arizona State after. Arizona swept USC and would likely relish the chance to play Arizona State again after losing on a buzzer-beater at home in the last meeting.
ARIZONA STATE (+550 ML) FROM HALF COURT FOR THE WIN pic.twitter.com/IVrmGwN4iD
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) February 25, 2023
However, how well Arizona defends will determine how it does in this tournament and beyond. After an encouraging month, Arizona allowed 78.3 points per game in its final three games. That includes 89 to an ASU team that struggles to shoot from the perimeter.
The Wildcats finished the year 3-3 and fell to 51st in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Due to its tempo, teams are going to score against Arizona with the extra possessions in the game. However, because of its outstanding offense, holding opponents to 70 (season average is 71.9) is the sweet spot for Arizona.
It will also make it easier to win a rock fight, which may be necessary to beat UCLA.
Teams With Motivation
In addition to winning the Pac-12 Tournament, UCLA and Arizona are also playing for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. While either of them may win the tournament anyway, they will still be in an excellent position if they don’t.
The following teams will be playing with added motivation for varying reasons.
USC Trojans (+800 on DK)
USC should be a tournament team at 22-9 overall and 14-6 in the Pac-12. However, Bracket Matrix projects the Trojans as a 10-seed, so a loss in the quarterfinal on Thursday might make for some tense moments on Selection Sunday.
USC will play the winner of Oregon State-Arizona State on Thursday, which I expect to be Arizona State. USC swept the season against ASU, including a 68-65 win in Los Angeles last Saturday. In that game, it held the Sun Devils to 29% shooting from the field.
If USC were to win the Pac-12 Tournament, it would likely be because of its defense. USC ranks ninth nationally in effective field goal percentage allowed and third in 2-point percentage allowed.
On paper, you would think its length and interior defense makes USC a tough matchup for Arizona if they meet in the semifinals. However, Arizona scored 84 PPG in its two wins over USC this season. The Trojans will be hoping the “hard to beat a team three times” motto applies if it faces Arizona again.
DraftKings has the best price to back the Trojans at +800.
Oregon Ducks (+1200 on DK)
Oregon is one of the biggest wild cards in this whole tournament. The good version of Oregon has double-digit wins over Arizona and USC. It also led at halftime against UCLA but ultimately couldn’t hang on.
However, the Ducks are also extremely streaky.
They have two three-game losing streaks this season. The first was followed by a stretch of five wins in its next six games. Oregon followed the second losing streak with its current three-game win streak.
Given their nature this season, it would make me a bit nervous backing the Ducks on this streak.
However, you could also say Oregon is entering this tournament with momentum. Plus, a loss in the quarterfinal will more than likely send Oregon to the NIT, as it’s currently projected as a “Next Four Out” team.
The Ducks will get the winner of Cal-Washington State on Thursday. Cal winning a game in Las Vegas may be the biggest upset of the tournament, so I would anticipate that Washington State gets through.
Oregon and Washington State split two meetings this season with the home team winning each matchup.
Washington State Cougars (+2200)
Washington State might not win this tournament, but it may be the team that no one wants to face.
The Cougars are a balanced team, ranking 58th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 63rd in adjusted defensive efficiency. They have length, perimeter shooting and will slow the game down to their tempo.
Washington State has wins over Arizona (in Tucson) and USC and also nearly upset UCLA at home, losing 67-66.
The Cougars will head to Las Vegas 16-15 against the spread and straight up. However, they’ll enter on a six-game winning streak, which I expect to extend to seven against Cal.
In their last meeting against Oregon, the Ducks shot a higher percentage from the field and won the rebounding battle by nine. However, the Cougars used a nine-point advantage at the 3-point line to pull out a three-point win.
If Wazzu gets by Oregon again, knocking off UCLA — its likely opponent — will be a tough task. However, Washington State is my favorite value pick to win this tournament.
Its odds on FanDuel moved from +2600 to +2200 on Monday morning. However, it’s still the more favorable price, compared to +2000 on DraftKings.
Arizona State Sun Devils (+2600)
Arizona State’s half-court buzzer-beater win over Arizona was a big boost to its NCAA Tournament resume. However, it still has work to do after losing its final two regular-season games.
Bracket Matrix projects ASU as an 11-seed, but you will find it on many “First Four Out” lines as well.
Like USC, defense will carry Arizona State through this tournament. ASU ranks 29th in adjusted defensive efficiency and fifth in 2-point percentage defense. The Sun Devils can get stops by forcing turnovers or protecting the rim and have held six of their last nine opponents under 70 points.
However, they will have to overcome an offense that ranks outside the top 100 in adjusted offensive efficiency. To make matters worse, they’re also 270th or worse in free-throw percentage, 3-point percentage and effective field goal.
Additionally, they may have to go through the conference’s top three seeds in UCLA, Arizona and USC.
Arizona State is a longshot, which is reflected in the market. However, if you plan to back Arizona State, pivot to FanDuel, which has its odds set at +2600 compared to +1500 at DraftKings.
- Pick for Pac-12 Tournament Champion: UCLA +120
- Dark Horse to Back: Washington State +2200
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