Arizona vs. Long Beach State NCAA Tournament Round 1: How to watch, odds and predictions for March Madness

Mar 20, 2024; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Tommy Lloyd during the NCAA first
Mar 20, 2024; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Arizona Wildcats head coach Tommy Lloyd during the NCAA first / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Basketball is making a return to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed for the second year in a row, setting up a matchup with No. 15 seed Long Beach State. The Wildcats were the regular-season Pac-12 Champions before getting bounced early in the conference tournament, while the Beach made an improbable run to win the Big West Tournament from the No. 4 seed to steal a bid.

Arizona: The Wildcats, captained by third-year head man Tommy Lloyd, ended the season on a whimper instead of a roar. After building up a streak of seven straight wins, the 'Cats have now lost two of their last three and seen both Kylan Boswell and Caleb Love completely disappear at times. With that said, five of Arizona's players earned All-Pac-12 honors and this is still a team with seven starting-caliber players. Additionally, Arizona made it to the Sweet Sixteen just two seasons ago and has never held a seed lower than No. 2 under Lloyd.

Long Beach State: The Beach are at an interesting crossroads. 10 days ago, Long Beach State opted not to renew the contract for now-outgoing head coach Dan Monson after the Beach dropped five straight games to end the regular season. Less than two weeks later, the Beach have gone on an improbable run to win the Big West and steal a bid from UC Irvine or UC Davis. Monson has been on a tear in the media lately while rallying the troops for the David vs. Goliath-esque battle.

How to watch Arizona vs. LBSU in the NCAA Tournament Round 1

  • Date: Thursday, March 21, 2024
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. MST
  • Venue: Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT

Arizona vs. LBSU NCAA Tournament Round 1 odds

Line: Arizona -20.5
O/U: 163.5

DraftKings odds have Arizona as a 20-point favorite to win, but proceed with caution. Long Beach State has a trio of imposing players who certainly will have something to say about the spread. Scoring 90+ points is about the average for Arizona, and the 'Cats will need to keep that pace to stay on top of the Beach who average just short of 78 points per game.

Arizona vs. LBSU NCAA Tournament Round 1 prediction

Arizona is 18-0 coming off a loss in the Lloyd era, and that doesn't look like it's changing. The Wildcats are carrying some chips on their shoulders with most of the nation down on them relative to other top seeds in the tournament. Arizona has something to prove: Lloyd will want to show off a crushing game plan, Caleb Love will want to return to form, and Kylan Boswell will want to prove that he's the starting point guard without question.

Long Beach State's trio of Marcus Tsohonis, Aboubacar Traore, and Lassina Traore will certainly give Arizona their all, and there are two other players on the team that average double-digit points. However, the magic can't stick around forever and all Cinderella stories must come to an end. Arizona will get the better of the Beach in Salt Lake City, albeit in closer fashion than predicted.

Prediction: Arizona wins 94-81

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