2022 Pac-12 Conference Tournament preview, odds, and best bets: Can anyone stop Arizona?
Coming into this season it looked like UCLA was going to dominate the Pac-12. They returned all of their starters from last year’s Final Four team and added a top transfer and a 5-star freshman. The Bruins have had a nice season but it has been Arizona, under first-year coach Tommy Lloyd, that has been the best team in the league. With a strong finish, they are likely to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and if they run the table they might even be the top overall seed.
Last year, it was the Oregon State Beavers who got hot, won the league tournament, and even made noise in the big dance after that. That is unlikely to happen two seasons in a row with the Beavers finishing the season in last place. They have been surprisingly terrible this season.
Right now, Arizona, UCLA and USC look like locks for the NCAA Tournament with teams like Colorado and Oregon on the bubble (or needing the AQ bid).
It is hard to see any teams beyond those top five winning this event this week.
2022 Pac-12 Tournament odds
Here are the opening odds for the Pac-12 Tournament, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook:
Washington State: +3000
Arizona State +5000
Oregon State: +50000
2022 Pac-12 Tournament best bets
Best bet: Arizona Wildcats -120
I am usually looking for a better payoff than this if I am making a futures pick in a conference tournament but Arizona has been awesome this season and one of the most complete teams in the country — 2nd on KenPom. All of their losses have been on the road but with the event being in Las Vegas, nobody is picking up an advantage in terms of the location this week. Actually, the neutral site could be advantageous to the Wildcats because of their ability to get very easy buckets inside. They have an NBA-sized frontline that is very hard to compete with and is a big reason they are making 58% of their two-pointers. The only knock against Arizona is that their lead guard Kerr Kriisa is just a freshman. When he has struggled the team has usually struggled too.
Best value: UCLA Bruins +160
Coming into the season, UCLA looked like a slam dunk to return to the Final Four. They returned all of their starters and added talent. During the regular season they had some ups, like really good wins against Villanova and top-seeded Arizona, but some downs too, such as 2 losses to Oregon and a loss to Arizona State. The Bruins’ best game can be as good as anyone in the country but we have not seen much of that lately. The key for them this week is health. Forward Johnny Juzang has been dealing with injury and it is hard to see them going on a run in this tournament if he is not in peak form.
Best longshot: Oregon Ducks +1500
The Ducks have shown they can beat good teams this season, which is why they might be worth the risk. They have also shown they can lose to teams they shouldn’t. I think they might have a chance this week, especially with the success they have had against USC and UCLA. Yes, they closed the season losing 5 of their last 6 games so they do not have the positive momentum you generally want from a sleeper pick. Included in that is an 84-81 loss to Arizona on the road. If they managed to get that win they would probably be off the bubble already. They have lots of motivation and enough talent to win. Dana Altman is a good coach in March too. Senior guards are always valuable this time of year and they have 2 of them in Jacob Young and Will Richardson.