March Madness: Can Arizona Wildcats Snap NCAA Tourney Skid?

March Madness: Can Arizona Wildcats Snap NCAA Tourney Skid?
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

Few men’s college basketball teams have been as snakebit on the sport’s biggest stage as the Arizona Wildcats have this century, with five losses in the Elite Eight in six tries coming by a combined 20 points.

This year, the Wildcats enter Thursday’s Sweet 16 against No. 6-seed Clemson with momentum, having rolled past Long Beach State and Dayton to reach the third round in Los Angeles.

Ooddsmakers are riding high on Arizona’s future, with ESPN BET Arizona listing the Wildcats as a 6.5-point favorite after an opening line of -7.5. The moneyline for the Wildcats is -290.

Since 2000, the Wildcats have posted a 6-5 (.545) mark in the Sweet 16 to go with a 1-5 (.167) Elite Eight record. Arizona will look to take the next step to the Final Four in Downtown L.A. at 4:09 p.m. local time against Clemson. Arizona sports betting sites list Connecticut as the national title favorite at +200, followed by Houston at +500 and Purdue at +650.

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Arizona Sweet 16 games Since 2000

  • 2022: Lost to No. 5 Houston (72-60)
  • 2017: Lost to No. 11 Xavier (73-71)
  • 2015: Beat No. 6 Xavier (68-60) 
  • 2014: Beat No. 4 San Diego State (70-64)
  • 2013: Lost to No. 2 Ohio State (73-70)
  • 2011: Beat No. 1 Duke (93-77)
  • 2009: Lost to No. 1 Louisville (103-64) 
  • 2005: Beat No. 2 Oklahoma State (79-78) 
  • 2003: Beat No. 5 Notre Dame (88-71) 
  • 2002: Lost to No. 2 Oklahoma (88-67) 
  • 2001: Beat No. 3 Ole Miss (66-56)
  • Overall: 6-5 (.545)
  • Average Score: 72.4 (Arizona) vs. 74.1 (opponents) 

Arizona Elite Eight Games Since 2000

  • 2015: Lost to No. 1 Wisconsin (85-78)  
  • 2014: Lost to No. 2 Wisconsin (64-63, OT)  
  • 2011: Lost to No. 3 UConn (65-63)  
  • 2005: Lost to No. 1 Illinois (90-89, OT) 
  • 2003: Lost to No. 2 Kansas (78-75)
  • 2001: Beat No. 1 Illinois (87-81) 
  • Overall: 1-5 (.167)
  • Average Score: 75.9 (Arizona) vs. 77.2 (opponents)  

Wildcats Sweet 16 & Elite 8 Facts to Know

In 11 previous Sweet 16 contests between 2000 and 2022, Arizona’s five losses came to teams seeded as high as No. 1 (Louisville in 2009) to No. 11 (Xavier in 2017), while they are 1-0 against sixth-seeded squads this century.

That lone contest came in 2015, when Arizona beat No. 6 Xavier, 68-60, before falling to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight, 85-78, in what was the Wildcats’ last trip to the fourth round.

That round has been especially brutal to the Wildcats this century, with the largest margin of loss for Arizona being seven points to the Badgers, while Arizona lost to Kansas by three in 2003, two points to UConn in 2011 and by a point each to the Badgers (2014) and Illinois (2005), with both of those games being decided in overtime.

Based on Arizona’s +900 title odds at Arizona betting apps (ranking fourth overall), it seems like oddsmakers aren’t shy on the Wildcats chances. With a victory over the Tigers, the Wildcats will have a shot at vanquishing 20-plus years of tournament futility against either No. 1 seed North Carolina or fourth seeded Alabama.

For now, Arizona fans can only hope the past is not a harbinger of the future, as the ‘Cats look to snap their March Madness blues in the City of Angels.  

USA Today photo by Rob Gray.



Christopher Boan

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

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