AZ Sportsbooks Breathe Sigh Of Relief After Wildcats Fall In Sweet 16

Written By C.J. Pierre on March 25, 2022

Fans of the Arizona Wildcats are no doubt disappointed after the team got bounced out of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. However, you can’t say the same thing for Arizona sportsbooks. 

Several AZ sports betting sites went on record saying that Arizona was their biggest liability. But that all changed once the Wildcats lost to the Houston Cougars on Thursday night.

This was the first year Arizona residents could bet on March Madness. And while the Wildcat’s run has come to an end, there is growing excitement for what’s to come.

AZ sportsbooks win thanks to Wildcat’s loss

The Arizona Wildcats became a significant liability for AZ sportsbooks partly because there weren’t a lot of expectations for this team before the season began. Before the season, Arizona did not appear in the Top 25.

However, most online sportsbooks in Arizona had the Wildcats among the top five favorites to win the Pac-12 title. Fast-forward to the start of March Madness, and sports fans betting on the Wildcats probably had sports betting sites sweating a bit.

BetMGM Arizona told PlayAZ, the Wildcats were the sportsbook’s biggest liability. Arizona was picked to win the championship on 10.9% of BetMGM tickets, more than any other team. The Wildcats also held the highest handle (15.4%) on BetMGM, meaning bettors placed more money on them to win the title than any other team.

Meanwhile, WynnBet Sportsbook was also in line to pay up big if the Wildcats were able to go all the way. Arizona was WynnBet’s fourth-biggest liability nationwide, trailing Gonzaga, Wisconsin and Villanova.

The numbers get interesting when you look at bets placed in Arizona. WynnBet says Arizona was their second-biggest liability in the Grand Canyon State. The Wildcats only trailed Loyola-Chicago in that category. The state of Arizona is a melting pot, so maybe some Ramblers alums were banking on Sister Jean’s good luck.

Arizona’s loss takes sportsbook operators off the hook. And odds are, the Wildcats won’t be sneaking up on anyone next season.

Potential future of Arizona Wildcats

After missing the NCAA Tournament in 2019 and 2021 (no tournament held in 2020), there wasn’t a lot of faith that Arizona would make an appearance at ‘The Big Dance’ in 2022. However, first-year Head Coach Tommy Lloyd and his players had other ideas.

So, fans should have high hopes for the future after the team turned what was supposed to be a rebuilding year into a title push. Naturally, there will be some player turnover with the NBA Draft and the college transfer portal. However, there should be some optimism about the talent that will be on this Wildcats roster next season.

Sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin will likely be heading for the NBA. Many mock drafts have him projected as a Top-10 pick. Losing the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year will obviously leave a big hole to fill.

The good news is most of the key players in the Wildcats rotation should return next year. And there is no telling what pieces could come from the transfer portal. It is way too early for the 2023 championship betting odds to come out. But I’d bet that Arizona won’t be very far away from the top when they do.

Photo by AP / Eric Gay
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C.J. Pierre

CJ Pierre is a multimedia journalist currently residing in the Phoenix-Metro Area in Arizona. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. CJ has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career. Most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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