The Arizona Wildcats enter their first season under coach Tommy Lloyd with decent college basketball betting odds at capturing the 2022 Pac-12 regular season conference title.
That says a lot about a program that has gone 29-27 in conference play over the last three seasons and is tasked with replacing most of its 2020-21 scoring under a new coach.
Lloyd came to Tucson after spending more than 20 years as an assistant at Gonzaga, where he helped Mark Few build a juggernaut.
He replaces Sean Miller, who was fired by Arizona after guiding the Wildcats to three Pac-12 championships and Elite Eight appearances during his 12-year tenure in Tucson.
Miller was named in the FBI’s probe of college basketball, when his longtime assistant coach and confidante Emanuel ‘Book’ Richardson was charged and pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery, ultimately serving a three-month prison sentence.
Lloyd and company kick off their inaugural season Tuesday, when Arizona hosts Northern Arizona at 8:30 p.m. Arizona time on the Pac-12 Network. It’s the school’s first college basketball game since sports betting in Arizona became legal.
Arizona Among Pac-12 Title Contenders in 2021
A bevy of Arizona sportsbooks list the Wildcats among the favorites to win the 2022 Pac-12 Championship.
The Wildcats currently have the third-best odds of winning the Pac-12 regular season title at FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona (+600). Caesars Sportsbook Arizona (+650), DraftKings Arizona (+700), and TwinSpires Sportsbook Arizona (+700) list Arizona either in solo possession or tied for the fourth-best odds of winning the regular season.
Arizona ranks behind conference title favorite, UCLA, and Oregon on each sportsbook in the conference title odds race.
When it comes to national championship odds, the Wildcats rank fourth among Pac-12 schools on all five sites, with TwinSpires Sportsbook Arizona listing them at +5000, as do BetMGM Arizona and Caesars Sportsbook Arizona.
Both DraftKings Sportsbook Arizona and FanDuel Sportsbook Arizona have the Wildcats at +6000 to win the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
The operators’ view of Arizona mirrors that of the Pac-12 media corps, which picked the Wildcats to finish in a tie with Oregon State for 4th overall in the conference during their preseason poll, behind UCLA, Oregon, and USC.
Arizona’s Games to Watch For
The Wildcats kick off the 2021-22 season with non-conference games against NAU, Texas-Rio Grande Valley, North Dakota State, Wichita State and Sacramento State, before kicking off Pac-12 play against Washington on Dec. 2.
From there, Arizona plays Oregon State in Corvallis on Dec. 5, before hosting Wyoming three days later. The non-conference schedule wraps up with road games against 11th-ranked Illinois and 18th-ranked Tennessee, with home games against Northern Colorado and California Baptist sandwiched in between.
Arizona’s toughest stint of Pac-12 contests features road games against USC, UCLA, and ASU in succession between Dec. 30 and Jan. 8 — likely determining how legitimate of a conference title contender the Wildcats are from the start.
Lloyd’s team will also face a grueling stretch run that includes home games against Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, and Cal, to go with road games against Utah and Colorado in the team’s final three weeks of the season.
If the Wildcats can weather the storm, then they’ll be in good shape to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years.