It may not be March just yet, but the madness that is the college basketball season is tipping off.
Most of the attention gets paid to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in the spring. However, with sports betting now legal in Arizona, more people in the Grand Canyon State will have their eyes on some of these in-season matchups.
Arizona has four universities competing at the Division I level. Two of them — Arizona and Arizona State — have hopes of making deep postseason runs.
Arizona Wildcats looking to make some noise in Pac-12
The Wildcats head into this season as one of the favorites to win the Pac-12. Most betting apps in Arizona have them among the top five favorites to win the conference.
Arizona goes into its first season under head coach Tommy Lloyd. After spending over 20 years as an assistant at Gonzaga, Lloyd replaced Sean Miller, who got fired after being named in the FBI’s college basketball probe. (Miller’s longtime assistant Emanuel Richardson was charged and pled guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery.)
The Wildcats start the season with non-conference games against the likes of Northern Arizona (an 81-52 win on Tuesday), North Dakota State and Wichita State (among others) before kicking off Pac-12 play against Washington on Dec. 2.
The toughest stretch of conference games features matchups against USC, UCLA and ASU. If the team can make it through those games relatively unscathed, the Wildcats could find themselves in prime position to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in four years.
For bettors with eyes on the future, college basketball odds in Arizona list the Wildcats reaching the Final Four at . If you have lofty hopes, the odds the Wildcats win the national championship are at .
Arizona sportsbooks see Sun Devils as longshot to win Pac-12
Meanwhile, the Arizona State Sun Devils are projected to be in for a tough season. Betting apps in the state give ASU odds to win the Pac-12.
The Sun Devils earned themselves a bad reputation after a rough 2020-2021 season. The team went from being ranked in the Associated Press preseason poll to finishing 11-14 and missing the 2020 NCAA tournament.
Bobby Hurley enters his seventh year as head coach at Arizona State. With any luck, this team will be able to recapture the magic that helped the Sun Devils finish second in the Pac-12 in 2019.
Arizona State started the regular season Tuesday with a 76-60 win against Portland State. The Sun Devils have some difficult non-conference games on their schedule, including hosting defending national champion and No. 8-ranked Baylor at home on Nov. 24.
The odds are also long for ASU to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Sportsbooks give the Devils odds to reach the Final Four and to win the national championship.
Don’t forget about Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona
A deep tournament run for either of Arizona’s mid-major Division I schools would surely create a “Cinderella story.” But the idea of Grand Canyon or Northern Arizona reaching the Final Four is not impossible.
Last season, GCU finished with the best record in the Western Athletic Conference and won the WAC tournament. The team earned the school’s first trip to the NCAA tournament.
Second-year head coach Bryce Drew will lead an Antelopes team that will be playing with heavy hearts this season. Just three days after playing in the tournament, senior forward Oscar Frayer died in a car crash, along with his sister and one other person. Frayer blocked three shots and scored eight points in GCU’s second-round loss to Iowa.
This year, Grand Canyon hopes its uptempo style will lead the Antelopes to a second straight tournament appearance.
The Northern Arizona men’s basketball team will be tested right out of the gate as they open the 2021-22 season with a pair of Pac-12 opponents. The Lumberjacks tipped off their season with an 81-52 loss at Arizona but look to bounce back in Seattle for a game against Washington.
Meanwhile, NAU has not made the NCAA tournament since 2000. However, head coach Shane Burcar is looking to make waves in the Big Sky Conference and improve on last year’s 6-16 record.
How to bet on college basketball in Arizona
The rules of betting on college basketball are similar to the college football betting rules. You can bet on the games and make team futures bets. However, you cannot place any bets on individual player props.
One difference you may notice is that you will not see any player futures bets you can make at this time.
Arizona sportsbooks allow you to wager on who will win the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player. For now, though, bettors will not see odds on college basketball’s Naismith College Player of the Year.
That said, after a month of games, you should discover that market pop up.