Long Beach State vs. Arizona Prediction, Odds and Key Players for NCAA Tournament First Round (Lay the Points)

College basketball betting preview, prediction and best bet for Long Beach State-Arizona.

Mar 15, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Arizona Wildcats center Oumar Ballo (11) celebrates in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Mar 15, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Arizona Wildcats center Oumar Ballo (11) celebrates in the Pac-12 Tournament. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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Long Beach State has supplied early Madness in March after an improbable run to the Big West Tournament title with a head coach that is on his way out. The school announced it was parting ways with head coach Dan Monson before the conference tournament, but the Beach reeled off three wins in three days to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 years. 

Can No. 15 Long Beach State’s Cinderella postseason continue? They’ll have to pull off the biggest upset in program history as they’re monster first-round underdogs to No. 2 Arizona. The Wildcats are coming off a loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinal and have been impressive as a favorite this season. 

Here’s the betting preview of Thursday’s tournament tilt with a best bet. 

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Long Beach State vs. Arizona Odds, Spread and Total

Long Beach State vs. Arizona Betting Trends

  • Long Beach State is 16-17 ATS this season
  • Arizona is 21-12 ATS this season
  • Long Beach State is 9-12 ATS as an underdog this season
  • Arizona is 19-12 ATS as a favorite this season
  • The OVER is 19-14 in Long Beach State games this season
  • The OVER is 16-17 in Arizona games this season

Long Beach State vs. Arizona How to Watch

  • Date: Thursday, March 21 
  • Game time: 2 p.m. EST
  • Venue: Delta Center
  • How to watch (TV): TBS
  • Long Beach State record: 21-14
  • Arizona record: 25-8

Long Beach State vs. Arizona Key Players to Watch

Long Beach State

Lassina Traore: The 6-foot-10 junior forward went on a tear to help Long Beach State pull off what seemed impossible less than a week prior to the Big West Tournament. In three conference tournament games, Traore combined for 55 points and 30 rebounds with a pair of double-doubles. In Saturday’s championship win over UC-Davis, he turned in 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting. 

Arizona 

Oumar Ballo: Arizona has its own frontcourt leader in Ballo, a 7-foot center who averages a double-double per game (13.1 points, 10.1 rebounds) while shooting 64.9% from the field. Ballo has posted a double-double in three consecutive games. He added 8 blocks in the Pac-12 Tournament, as well. 

Long Beach State vs. Arizona Prediction and Pick 

While college basketball is loved in March for its underdog stories, let’s not forget that Long Beach State was still a team in position to fire its head coach after ending the regular season on a five-game losing streak.

Arizona plays at one of the fastest tempos in the nation (No. 8 in average possession length) and faces a Long Beach State defense that was one of the worst in the Big West. Long Beach State is No. 217 in KenPom in effective field goal percentage and is susceptible on the perimeter. The Beach are No. 262 defending from downtown and give up over 36% of its points from beyond the arc. Arizona is the No. 23 three-point shooting team in the nation and are not bad inside the arc (No. 35), either. 

Defensively, Arizona can counter a Long Beach State offense that is No. 53 in the nation in offensive rebounding. Arizona led the Pac-12 in defensive rebounding (29.4 per game), giving up a league-best 8.8 offensive boards per game. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to chase down misfires and limit Long Beach State to one shot. The Beach are No. 255 in effective field goal percentage and struggles to connect from deep. Lay the big number with Arizona to cruise. 

Pick: Arizona -21


Game odds update periodically and are subject to change.