The Arizona Wildcats are back-to-back reigning Pac-12 tournament champions and winners of five of the past eight tournaments. The Wildcats edged the UCLA Bruins in the 2023 championship in a nail-biting 61-59 finish. Azuolas Tubelis’ 19-point, 14-rebound effort in the final won him tournament MVP. Arizona earned a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance before being dispatched by the No. 15 Princeton Tigers in a shocking first-round upset in the South Region.
Final from #McKaleNorth.— Arizona Basketball (@ArizonaMBB) March 12, 2023
The Pac-12 quarterfinals saw an upset as the USC Trojans were defeated by the Arizona State Sun Devils 77-72 as 3.5-point favorites. The leaders on the oddsboard advanced smoothly, with Arizona posting a 95-84 victory over the Stanford Cardinal and UCLA handling the Colorado Buffaloes 80-69.
The semifinals went according to plan, with favored UCLA eliminating Oregon 75-56 and Arizona waving a 78-59 goodbye to Arizona State.
Pac-12 Basketball Championship Odds
|Arizona (#8)||+1 (-110)|
|UCLA (#2)||-1 (-110)|
Odds as of March 11
Pac-12 Tournament Odds Favorite: Arizona Wildcats Looking For Another Title
Arizona (25-6, 14-6) carried the No. 8 ranking in the AP Top 25 into the Pac-12 tournament, a few spots behind the Bruins due to a few more conference losses. And while we give a nod to the Bruins’ top-five defense, we have to extend major kudos to Arizona’s offense.
The Wildcats average 83.3 points per game to rate third in the country thanks to a formidable frontcourt that looks impossible to defend. Azuolas Tubelis, who leads the team with 19.8 PPG (29th in the nation), is a powerhouse standing at six-foot-11. Fellow junior Oumar Ballo, a towering seven-footer, is second on the team at 14.2 PPG.
Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo together in two Pac-12 Tournament games: 75 points on 34-for-46 (74%) shooting from the field and 33 rebounds. 👀— Justin Spears (@JustinESports) March 11, 2023
However, Tubelis has been called out by staff for his sloppy play and fouls that have hurt the team in key situations, including a recent loss to the Bruins. Tubelis was in foul trouble throughout that game before fouling out in the final seconds.
Ballo led the way in Thursday’s quarterfinal victory over Stanford with 24 points while Cedric Henderson Jr. had 23 and Tubelis added 20 as the Wildcats advanced to meet Arizona State. Tubelis’ 17 points and Ballo’s 10 rebounds against the Sun Devils will need to carry over into the championship tonight.
Pac-12 Tournament Odds Value Pick: UCLA’s Experience Glues Squad Together
The Bruins (27-4, 18-2) won the Pac-12 regular-season title and were the pre-tournament favorites before conceding the top spot on the oddsboard to the Wildcats. UCLA, which moved up to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 this week, has skill with a group of players remaining from the squad that went to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in 2021.
Among them is Jaime Jaquez Jr., who leads the team in both points (17.5) and rebounds (8.1) per game. Jaylen Clark (13 PPG), Tyger Campbell (13.5) and Amari Bailey (10.2) are also key components of an offense that averages a modest 74.4 points per game.
It’s defense, though, that sets UCLA apart. The Bruins allow opponents just 60.3 points per contest, an elite number that ranks fifth in the nation.
The Bruins wrapped up their pre-tournament slate on a 10-game win streak, including a notable 82-73 victory on Saturday over second-place Arizona. They cruised past Colorado on Thursday behind Bailey’s 26-point effort while Campbell netted 18 and Jaquez 16. In the semis, Campbell exploded for 28 points and six assists, with Jaquez pulling down 10 rebounds. Count on UCLA’s group effort and experience to carry the team to another title.
Tyger Campbell scored a career-high 28 points as the 𝐁𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐬𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐚 𝟕𝟓-𝟓𝟔 𝐰𝐢𝐧 against Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals on Friday.— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) March 11, 2023
QUOTES: https://t.co/9gaQwTCuIE pic.twitter.com/YxkYRDvz7H
Last 10 Pac-12 Tournament Winners
Arizona has hoisted the tournament title five times while appearing in the finals on six occasions in the last 10 years. The Wildcats own the most Pac-12 tournament championships all-time with nine.