Long Beach State vs. Arizona March Madness Preview and Prediction

In the No. 15 vs. No. 2 matchup in the NCAA Tournament West Region, the Long Beach State Beach face the Arizona Wildcats in first-round action.

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How to Watch Long Beach State vs. Arizona

When: 2:00 pm ET on Thursday, March 21st

Where: Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah

Watch: TBS

Odds for Long Beach State vs. Arizona

(odds current at time of publish)

Spread: Arizona -20.5

Total: 160.5

DraftKings Betting Splits | Live College Basketball Odds | Long Beach State vs. Arizona Matchup

West Region No. 15 Long Beach State Beach

Long Beach State is one of the most interesting teams heading into the tournament. The program actually made the decision to move on from head coach Dan Monson last week, but the two parties agreed that he’d finish the year on the sidelines. Then, the Beach went on to win the Big West tournament. No backsies? Anyway, this is now a dangerous team that is playing with house money, and these players clearly want to keep winning for Monson. So, they aren’t going down without a fight. But Long Beach State is going to need to continue to defend the 3-point line like there’s no tomorrow. The Beach didn’t guard it well during the regular season, but poor shooting from opponents is part of what won them the conference tournament. However, there is some talent in place here. Guard Marcus Tsohonis is a fun player as an on-ball creator, and Lassina Traore and Aboubacar Traore make up a tough frontcourt.

West Region No. 2 Arizona Wildcats

Arizona was a No. 2 in last year’s tournament and lost in the first round to 15th-seeded Princeton. The Wildcats had to deal with a lot of criticism because of that, and it would have been worse if Purdue didn’t lose in a 1-16 game. But Arizona is back with another excellent basketball team. The Wildcats are a top-15 team when it comes to both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they can play inside and out. Caleb Love, Kylan Boswell and Pelle Larsson are all very good perimeter players, and Oumar Ballo is a tank in the paint. Keshad Johnson is also a tremendous mix of both at power forward. The only thing to worry about with Arizona is whether the team can overcome a bad matchup. The Wildcats can struggle if they’re not hitting 3s at a high clip, and Ballo can occasionally struggle against quicker teams. 

Long Beach State vs. Arizona Preview & Prediction

It’s hard to tell if Dan Monson had vacation plans for this week or not, but Long Beach State’s head coach agreed to a mutual parting of ways at season’s end. Monson stuck around for the Big West Tournament and his team decided to go ahead and win it. The team actually lost five straight to finish the regular season before rolling through the conference tournament.

This is actually a really talented team that did underperform and underachieve during the regular season. It is a pretty experienced team as well. The one thing that has been true of every Monson team for about a decade is that they push the tempo. They’ll keep doing it here against Arizona, another team that plays at a high rate of speed.

The big line seems fitting with all the possessions we’ll see here, especially because the Wildcats are a very efficient offensive team. They score down low, they score out high, and they are very accurate from all areas on the floor. Arizona also has some massive advantages on the glass in this particular matchup. 

Last year’s team won the Pac-12 Tournament and then laid a giant egg against Princeton, scoring just 55 points in 15 over 2 upset. This year’s team gracefully stepped aside after a loss to Oregon to get a little extra rest. They’re also going into the NCAA Tournament healthier than the past two seasons. Whether or not they cover the big number remains to be seen, but West Region looks pretty kind for a deep run out of Tommy Lloyd’s team to erase the bad memories of last year.

Estimated Score: Arizona 89, Long Beach State 71

For expert predictions, go to our college basketball best bets page.