2022 PAC-12 College Basketball Betting Preview: Will UCLA or Arizona Contend for National Championship?

Oct 26, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Tyger Campbell (10) and forward Jaime Jaquez
Oct 26, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Tyger Campbell (10) and forward Jaime Jaquez / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA has been at the center of the College Basketball discussion the past two seasons, making back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances, but was challenged last season by an upstart Arizona team under first year coach Tommy Lloyd.

Both teams fell short in the Sweet 16 last season, but will look to get over the hump this season and restore glory to two historic programs. They will be challenged at the top by the likes of Oregon and USC, but this is shaping up to be a two team conference in terms of National Championship contenders.

Let's preview the conference and see which teams we are buying and selling.

2022-2023 PAC-12 Preseason Poll

  • UCLA: 386 (26)
  • Arizona: 352 (3)
  • Oregon: 336, (3)
  • USC: 300
  • Stanford: 239
  • Colorado: 207
  • Arizona State: 193
  • Washington State: 185
  • Washington: 158
  • Utah: 102
  • California: 69
  • Oregon State: 47

First place in parenthesis

UCLA returns key contributors including Tyger Campbell (11.9 points per game) and Jaime Jacquez (13.9) as well as a pair of highly touted recruits in Amari Bailey and Adem Bona.

Bona will be the rim protector of this Bruins unit while Bailey will replace the loss of Johnny Juzang on the wing. The starting five should contend with anyone in the country, as evidence with their No. 11 mark per KenPom.

If there is one concern for the Bruins, it's lack of proven talent in the frontcourt. Bona is a raw talent, but the athleticism is there, while red shirt freshman Mac Etienne and seldom used senior Kenneth Nwuba back him up.

PAC-12 KenPom College Basketball Ranking

  • Arizona: 10
  • Arizona State: 75
  • Cal: 146
  • Colorado: 61
  • Oregon: 29
  • Oregon State: 228
  • Stanford: 58
  • UCLA: 11
  • USC: 36
  • Utah: 72
  • Washington: 113
  • Washington State: 71

PAC-12 Favorite: Arizona (+2000)

UCLA received the majority of the first place votes in the preseason media poll, but Arizona is looked at on the same level as the Bruins, and rightfully so.

The team may have lost NBA talent by way of Bennedict Mathurin, Christian Koloko and Dalen Terry, but the rest of the rotation returns as well as key transfers.

Kerr Kriisa is the ball handler of the starting five and will be joined by veteran Texas transfer Courtney Ramey in the backcourt. Up front, 6'11" big man Azuolas Tubelis returns with nearly 14 points per game as Oumar Ballo slids in for Koloko, another seven-foot rim protector for the Wildcats.

Arizona backs up Ballo with two more seven footers in freshmen Henri Veesaar and Dylan Anderson to add some size off the bench as well as senior transfer Cedric Henderson Jr, who transferred from Campbell after averaging 14 points per game on nearly 50% shooting from the field and 38% shooting from the three-point line.

While there are questions for both UCLA and Arizona, I believe the ceiling is higher for Lloyd's group, who has the size to overwhelm opponents on the inside and the necessary 3-point shooting with Ramey and Henderson to be a top 10 unit on that side of the ball.

PAC-12 Dark Horse: Oregon (+6000)

It was a down year for Oregon, who started 6-6 and couldn't get any momentum going towards an NCAA Tournament berth, finishing 20-15 on the year and an NIT appearance, but I expect a resurgent campaign in Eugene.

Coach Dana Altman is one of the best in the country and brings back lead ball handler Will Richardson and forward Quincey Guerrier. Atlman has leaned on the transfer portal heavily the past few years and this year was no different, nabbing Keeshawn Barthelemy from Colorado and Jermaine Couisnard from South Carolina. Factor in 6'11" big man N'Faly Dante and former top 15 recruit Nate Bittle off the bench, Oregon has a ton of avenues to success with the talent on hand.

Oregon was middling on both sides of the ball, 52nd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 115th on defense, but advanced metrics sites such as KenPom look favorably on the Ducks this season, projecting them18th on offense.

There are some negative outcomes with several transfers playing a role in the rotation, take last year for an example, but there is also high end outcomes that can be reached.

PAC-12 Team to Fade: USC (+8000)

The Trojans are looked at favorably heading into the season, up to No. 36 in KenPom's preseason projection from No. 47 at the end of last season, but there is concern all over.

The team's five star recruit Vince Iwuchukwu had cardiac arrest during an informal workout over the summer and there's no word if he has been cleared to play this season. The team is thin up front with Isaiah Mobley and Chevez Goodwin gone, and the only player with experience as a big if Long Beach State transfer Josh Morgan.

The team has reliable guard play in Boogie Ellie and Drew Peterson, but there are plenty of questions on the Trojans side that relied heavily on their interior defense last season. With the likes of Mobley and Goodwin down low, USC had the third best two-point defense in the country, but that's now the biggest question mark on the roster. The team was bottom 20 in terms of turnover percentage so it relied heavily on its ability to alter shots inside.

Proceed with caution backing USC in the futures market.

Track all of Reed's bets at Betstamp HERE!

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.