How Arizona Basketball Has Performed as NCAA Top Seed Over the Years

How Arizona Basketball Has Performed as NCAA Top Seed Over the Years
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

Despite their homecourt loss to Washington State on Thursday night, it still seems like the Arizona Wildcats are lined up for the program’s eighth No. 1 seed since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

With a 20-6 record and the No. 4 ranking on KenPom.com (and No. 3 spot in Friday’s NCAA NET rankings update), Tommy Lloyd’s team seems well in line for the fourth and final top seed — be sure to check out our Wildcats March Madness seed odds.

If Arizona’s able to do so, it’d mark the second time since Lloyd arrived in Tucson in 2021 the Wildcats secured a top seed in the tourney, joining the 2021 team that made it to the Sweet 16 before falling to Houston, 72-60.

This year, oddsmakers from ESPN BET Arizona give the Wildcats +1000 odds of winning the second national title in school history (and first since 1997), with Lloyd’s team ranking behind UConn (+400), Purdue (+750) and Houston (+850).

To get a sense of how the Wildcats have fared in their previous seven trips to the Big Dance as a No. 1 seed, BetArizona.com broke down the program’s history in March Madness from the top of the bracket.

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Wildcats History as No. 1 Seed

2022

  • 1st Round: Beat Wright State, 87-80
  • 2nd Round: Beat TCU, 85-80 (OT)
  • Sweet 16: Lost to Houston, 72-60 

2014

  • 1st Round: Beat Weber State, 68-59 
  • 2nd Round: Beat Gonzaga, 84-61 
  • Sweet 16: Beat San Diego State, 70-64 
  • Elite Eight: Lost to Wisconsin, 64-63 (OT) 

2003

  • 1st Round: Beat Vermont, 80-51 
  • 2nd Round: Beat Gonzaga, 96-95 (2OT) 
  • Sweet 16: Beat Notre Dame, 88-71 
  • Elite Eight: Lost to Kansas, 78-75

2000  

  • 1st Round: Beat Jackson State, 71-47
  • 2nd Round: Lost to Wisconsin, 66-59

1998  

  • 1st Round: Beat Nicholls State, 99-60
  • 2nd Round: Beat Illinois State, 82-49
  • Sweet 16: Beat Maryland, 87-79
  • Elite Eight: Lost to Utah, 76-51

1989  

  • 1st Round: Beat Robert Morris, 94-60
  • 2nd Round: Beat Clemson, 94-68
  • Sweet 16: Lost to UNLV, 68-67

1988  

  • 1st Round: Beat Cornell, 90-50
  • 2nd Round: Beat Seaton Hall, 84-55
  • Sweet 16: Beat Iowa, 99-79
  • Elite Eight: Beat UNC, 70-52) 
  • Final Four: Lost to Oklahoma, 86-78

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Wildcats Have Checkered History as Top Seed

The lone time Arizona won it all, they did so as a fourth seed, beating South Alabama, Charleston, Kansas, Providence, North Carolina and Kentucky. The deepest run the Wildcats have made as a No. 1 seed was reaching the Final Four in 1988.

That year, Lute Olson’s team fell to Oklahoma, 86-78, putting an end to a memorable season that really laid the groundwork for what the Wildcats would accomplish over the next few decades, becoming a March Madness mainstay while reaching the Final Four three more times between 1988 and 2001.

Besides that Final Four run, Arizona’s made it to the Elite Eight three times as a top seed, doing so in 1998, 2003 and 2014, while ultimately getting knocked out in the Sweet 16 twice (1989 and 2022) and falling in the second round once (2000).

This year, ESPN bracket guru Joe Lunardi has the Wildcats facing the play-in round winner between South Dakota State and Grambling State in the first round of the tournament, with a win over either team setting up a potential second-round clash with either Texas or Boise State in Salt Lake City.

Arizona betting apps list the Wildcats as the overwhelming favorite to capture the Pac-12 regular season title at -1200 odds.

For now, the Wildcats’ main task is finding their way back into the win column with a Saturday matinee against Washington awaiting them before closing out the regular season with a road game at Arizona State on Feb. 28 and showdowns with Oregon (at home March 2), UCLA (on the road March 7) and USC (on the road March 9).

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Author

Christopher Boan

Christopher Boan is the lead writer at BetArizona.com after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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